PACIFIC BAROQUE FESTIVAL
‘VENETIAN GLORY’ - Vivaldi's Gloria
Pacific Baroque Festival Ensemble, Marc Destrubé director
with the Victoria Children's Choir, Madeleine Humer director
Saturday, February 9, 2018, 8PM (Pre-concert talk at 7:15PM)
The Victoria Conservatory of Music's Alix Goolden Performance Hall
Pacific Baroque Festival Ensemble
Curtis Foster, baroque oboe
Marc Destrubé, baroque violin and music director
Venice in the 18th century was a mecca for music and musicians; the ‘Ospedale’ (orphanages) buzzed with musical activity and it was for the girls at one of these that Vivaldi composed many of his concertos as well as the ‘Gloria’, which you will hear in its original version for high voices, performed by the Victoria Children’s Choir. Other composers such as Domenico Scarlatti and Albinoni were also drawn to ‘City of Bridges’ and it’s thriving musical scene in the 18th century.
Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Concerto for strings and basso continuo in g minor, RV 157
Charles Avison (1709-1770)
Concerto grosso No 6 in D major 'after Domenico Scarlatti’ (1685-1757)
Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1751)
Concerto in D Minor for oboe, strings and basso continuo, Op.9, No.2
Baldasar Galuppi (1706–1785)
Concerto a Quattro No.6 in Bb Major
Gloria for soloists, choir, oboe, trumpet, strings and basso continuo, RV 589
$30 adult, $25 seniors and students
Destrubé is a brilliantly soulful player and his able, passionate orchestra follows his lead, answers his calls.
— The Georgia Straight
Venice has a long history as an important centre of music-making and was popularly known in medieval times as ‘The Republic of Music’. As a centre of trade and diplomacy between East and West it hosted composers and performers from all corners and produced many of its own. In the 17th century Venetian musicians had a leading role in the development of instrumental ensemble music, and in the 18th the city became an incubator for virtuoso composition and playing. Along with the Basilica of San Marco, (which has had a choirmaster ever since 1318!), various opera houses and the Ospedale (orphanages) produced quantities of fine music.
It is easy to imagine that not much has changed in Venice over the past few centuries. Aside from the sound and smell of the vaporetti and other motorized boat traffic on the canals, much is the same: mass is held in San Marco cathedral, drinks are served in the bars of the Piazza San Marco, the masterworks of Tintoretto and Veronese still hang in the many churches, and the opera house burns down and is rebuilt about once a century (most recently in 1996). So one might imagine that Vivaldi’s music also endured and continued to sound in the churches and Ospedale of Venice over the centuries. The reality is quite different: his music fell into obscurity soon after his death and was only re-discovered in the 1920’s, initially with the now-famous Four Seasons (which was first published as a piano duet in 1920), and later with the much-loved Gloria which forms part of tonight’s program.
Vivaldi was known as the Red Priest on account of his red hair and his admission to the priesthood. His priestly duties were short-lived on account of a “tightness in the chest” (asthma perhaps?); some suggest that he invented this in order to be able to devote his time to music. He spent a major part of his career working in the Ospedale della Pietà. This Ospedale was one of four in Venice, homes for orphans and other children whose parents couldn’t or wouldn’t care for them. The Ospedale dell Pietà was most likely where the illegitimate children of Venetian noblemen and their mistresses were sent; as a consequence, it was well endowed and able to give the children a first-class education. The boys learned a trade and left at age 15; the girls received excellent musical training and the most talented stayed and became members of the Ospedale’s renowned orchestra and choir. For the girls in his charge Vivaldi wrote a great many concertos (he was expected to write two a month). His total output of concertos is about 500, of which 350 are for a solo instrument.
Vivaldi’s Gloria, discovered among several volumes of church music under a pile of manuscripts in the late 1920’s, didn’t receive it’s first modern-day performance until 1939, and that in a heavily-altered version by the Italian composer Alfred Casella: he added instruments as well as cutting sections, in what he referred to as an elaborazione. The first publication and performance of the original version we know today was not given until 1957 in New York City. Although it is often sung by a mixed voice choir and separate (highly paid!) vocal soloists, the fact that the solo sections only call for soprano and alto voices suggests that it was written for performance by the girls at the Ospedale. Our performance with the Victoria Children’s Choir and soloists from the choir brings us much closer to the sound and spirit of a performance in Venice almost 300 years ago.
Albinoni and Vivaldi became known in the twentieth century primarily through the existence of one work each, the aforementioned ‘Four Seasons’ and Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor. So popular is the latter work, one of the most recorded of all baroque works, that one enterprising orchestra and producer even issued a whole CD of Albinoni adagios some years ago. Unfortunately, and curiously, the famous one is not actually by Albinoni, but was composed in 1958 by a biographer, Remo Giazotto, who later claimed that it was based on fragments of a genuine Albinoni sonata; even this is now doubted. This fabrication did however serve to bring Albinoni’s music to the general public’s attention, and we have come to know some of his genuine and beautiful music including the now popular oboe concerto. Albinoni seems to have lived a quite isolated musical life in Venice. He was brought up in the family business, manufacturers of playing cards, and when he showed a great deal more interest in music than in the running of the business (despite having reached the rank of maestro in playing card manufacturing), he was given a share of the income without any responsibilities and was able to pursue his musical activities without being particularly involved in the existing Venetian musical institutions such as the Cathedral of San Marco or any of the Ospedale. By the time the family business failed he had become widely known as a musician, with his operas being performed throughout Europe and his music published in London and Amsterdam. It is likely that he had little or no direct contact with his younger colleague, Vivaldi, but the influence of his early concertos on those of Vivaldi is unmistakable, and it can be argued that the favour was returned by Vivaldi’s later more adventurous style then affecting the more conservative nature of Albinoni’s writing.
Domenico Scarlatti, born the same year as Bach and Handel, was sent to Venice by his father Alessandro to study with Gasparini, spending several years there before moving to Rome, eventually spending much of his adult life in Portugal and Spain. It was in Venice around 1710 that he met the Irish musician Thomas Roseingrave, who had been sent to Italy with the financial assistance of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin in order "to improve himself in the art of music". Roseingrave was greatly impressed by Scarlatti’s harpsichord playing and, after following him to Naples and Rome, returned to England with a selection of his keyboard works, which he then published, leading to something of a "Scarlatti cult" in England. Along with Charles Burney, the composer Charles Avison was one of the figures who helped to promote Scarlatti's keyboard compositions in England. In part drawn from Roseingrave's editions as well as from various other manuscript sources, Avison compiled and arranged about fifty movements from Scarlatti’s 555 keyboard sonatas, and masterfully grouped them into twelve concerti grossi for strings and continuo.
Baldassare Galuppi worked at the Ospedale dei Mendicanti and later became maestro di capella at San Marco. Known as ‘Il Buranello’ on account of having born on the island of Burano in the Venetian Lagoon, he lived most of his life in Venice. He travelled widely and worked for a time in London and for Catherine the Great in St. Petersburg. His first attempt at writing an opera in 1722 was a spectacular failure: it was hissed off the stage. After studies with Lotti and a period in Florence he returned to Venice in 1729 with another opera which was a great success, and he became a central figure in the development of opera in the 18th century. Among his non-operatic works are a large number of pieces for harpsichord and several oratorios as well as a set of orchestral concertos. By the time of his death in Venice, Galuppi was one of the best-known and most respected figures in the Venetian musical establishment. A requiem mass was held in his memory at San Marco.
Single Tickets and Festival Pass for the Pacific Baroque Festival can be purchased:
By calling the Victoria Conservatory of Music Box Office (purchase now): 250.386.5311
In person (tickets available from September 1):
At the Victoria Conservatory of Music’s Alix Goolden Performance Hall Box Office (900 Johnson Street, Victoria BC (box office charges apply)
Or at the Cathedral Office (930 Burdett Avenue)
And at the following outlets:
Ivy’s Bookshop at: 2188 Oak Bay Ave
Long & McQuade at: 756 Hillside Ave
Tanner’s Books at: 2436 Beacon ave, Sidney
Munro’s Books at: 1108 Government St.
GETTING TO THE VICTORIA CONSERVATORY'S ALIX GOOLDEN PERFORMANCE HALL
The Victoria Conservatory of Music's Alix Goolden Hall is located at the corner of Quadra St. and Pandora Ave.
The VCM parking lot is reserved for staff and faculty at all times. Street parking and public lots are available within short walking distance.