Dates to be announced
Christ Church Cathedral
Krisztina Szabó, mezzo soprano
Marc Destrubé, violin
Kathryn Wiebe, violin
Natalie Mackie, viola da gamba
Christina Hutten, harpsichord & organ
Explore the brilliant music of the violin virtuosos of 17th and 18th century Italy. Early Italian composers were masters in defining genres, from Monteverdi’s operas to Vivaldi’s concertos to Corelli’s sonatas. This concert highlights the versatility of Italian expression over an ever-steady ground bass.
Francesco Maria Veracini (1690 - 1768)
Sonata in d Minor Op. 2 No. 12
Passagallo: Largo assai
Allegro ma non presto
Ciaccona: ma non presto
Antonio Bertali (1605 - 1669)
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741)
Piango, gemo, sospiro e peno RV 675
Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643)
Lamento della ninfa
Arcangelo Corelli (1653 – 1713)
Sonata da camera a tre in G Major Op. 2, No. 12
COVID SAFETY PROTOCOLS:
The health and safety of our patrons, musicians, staff, and volunteers is of paramount concern. Please see below to read the steps we are taking to ensure everyone's safety while enjoying the concert:
Reduced audience numbers in socially distanced seats
Audience members must wear a mask inside the venue at all times
Doors will not be opened until 15 minutes before the performance
The venue will be sanitized before each performance
Francesco Maria Veracini was known as a “foolishly vainglorious” violinist who made his reputation as a player and composer over a lengthy career in Florence, Dresden, and London.
One famous example of his peculiar behaviour would occur in Dresden in 1722 while he was in the service of Prince Friedrich August of Saxony. Veracini leapt from a third-story window, breaking his foot and hip. One recounting of this fall attributed it to a public act of despair after being humiliatingly replaced as a soloist, but Veracini claimed it was an escape from jealous German musicians plotting to kill him.
London is where Veracini would compose his second set of twelve violin sonatas, his ‘Sonate Accademiche’ Op. 2, published in 1744. The term “Accademiche” should be interpreted by its meaning in Florence as a private concert (as opposed to one in the church or the theatre), and not in its traditional English “academic” sense. This opus is seen as autobiographical in nature, with movements referencing locations of his many travels. Sonata No. 2 contains a Polonese for his time in Dresden (electors of Saxony were also kings of Poland), and the Scozzesse of Sonata No. 9 reflects his time in Britain. His usage of both a passacaglia and a chaconne in the Sonata No. 12 in D minor followed an Italian fashion to end a set of sonatas with a ground bass.
Antonio Bertali was a 17th century composer and violin virtuoso who spent the bulk of his career in the Hapsburg Viennese court. Bertali trained under composer Stefano Bernardi until 1622, when his master took a position with Archduke Carl Joseph Bishop of Breslau, and brother of Emperor Ferdinand II. This move likely led to Bertali’s employment under the Emperor in 1624. Bertali would have much success at the court, and quickly gained a reputation as a composer. He composed for many special occasions, including a cantata for the marriage of the future Emperor Ferdinand III to the Spanish Infanta Anna Maria, and a ‘Requiem for Ferdinand II’ in 1637.
Although half of his compositions are now lost, his output showed great flexibility along with knowledge of the musical trends coming from Northern Italy as in the compositions of Cesti or Cavalli. The ‘Ciaconna’ is perhaps his best-known work.
During his lifetime, Antonio Vivaldi was primarily known for his concertos, the ‘Four Seasons’ being the foremost, even to this day. Many of his works were written for the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for abandoned children in Venice. He wrote upwards of 140 concertos for the Ospedale and briefly served there as a Catholic priest. His familiar title, Il Prete Rosso (The Red Priest), is attributed to his hereditary red hair.
In contrast to his concertos, his cantatas were much less well known. These pieces would have typically been performed only on singular occasions in private court circles. Vivaldi wrote only 40 of these secular cantatas.
The Cantata ‘Piango, gemo, sospiro e peno,’ (RV 675) is an exceptional cantata in a few ways. First, its survival is only through a spurious copy in Florence. Secondly, it uses a specific basso ostinato in the lament style known as Passus Duriusculus. Passus Duriusculus literally translates as “harsh step” and describes a descending chromatic line of a 4th in a repeated pattern.
It has been suggested that J.S. Bach used the first aria of this cantata as the basis for his chorus ‘Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen’ from his BWV 12, due to the similarities of the four-word text treatment over a descending chromatic ostinato. However, this is disputed as it is unlikely Bach would have been aware of this specific and obscure work.
Claudio Monteverdi’s ‘Lamento della Ninfa’ was published in his 8th book of madrigals in 1638 during his time in Venice. The book, titled ‘Madrigali guerrieri, et amorosi,’ is structured in two symmetrical halves, themed on war, then love. The ‘Lament of the Nymph’ is a theatrical piece from the second half with a text by Ottavio Rinuccini; it is mirrored by the ‘Combattimento di Tancredi et Clorinda’ in the first part. The preface of this book includes a lengthy treatise by Monteverdi claiming to be faithful to Plato’s ideals of music relating to the human passions, as well as a strict performance guide for the otherwise rare “concitato” style used in the war-like ‘Combattimento.’ This philosophical introduction may have been less of a personal manifesto and more of an elaborate compliment to his patron, Emperor Ferdinand III, to whom the book is dedicated.
In the larger geo-political world, the Hapsburg army had invaded the city of Mantua in 1630, where Monteverdi had served as the court’s maestro della musica. This invasion also brought the plague along with it, eventually being passed on to Venice and killing Monteverdi’s assistant. These disruptions likely motivated Monteverdi’s pursuit of stable employment at the Emperor’s court, and help explain the extended time frame between his publications.
The beautifully expressive ‘Lamento della Ninfa’ is notated by Monteverdi as tempo del’affetto del animo (tempo of the heart). This more rhythmically-free style is referred to as Monteverdi’s seconda pratica, and had come into great popularity through Monteverdi’s operas. In the text, the nymph agonizes over her betrayal by her lover. The unifying musical element in this section is the ever-present basso ostinato of a descending tetrachord in typical “lament” fashion.
Arcangelo Corelli was born in 1653 in the small town of Fusignano to a family of prosperous landowners. His early musical studies would take him to Bologna in 1666, a respected musical centre. He would move to Rome in 1675, where he found it hard to escape the history of his schooling, being given the nickname “Il Bolognese”, which was found on the title pages of his first three publications.
His first principal position would be under Cardinal Benedetto Pamphili in 1684. He was employed to play regularly on Sundays at the cardinal’s Palazzo al Corso. It was likely for these “academies” that Corelli wrote his Opus 2, which was likewise dedicated to the cardinal.
Sonata No. 12 in Corelli’s Op. 2 is distinct from its predecessors, being purely a Chaconne in two sections: Largo and Allegro. Corelli’s output had otherwise standardized the Sonata form as consisting of four movements in a slow-fast-slow-fast order.
The publication of this set of twelve trio sonatas would cause a stir due to a singular passage which contained a series of descending parallel fifths. Corelli rather hotly responded to the questioning of his approach by arguing that the fifths were indirect and therefore legitimate, and that his critics must be ignorant of the rules of music.
This dispute did not disrupt Corelli’s rise to fame, however. His publications fortunately coincided with the abrupt increase in music publishing at the beginning of the 18th century, and Corelli’s works became some of the most widely published and distributed in Europe. He became one of the most imitated composers in the early 18th century, with composers such as Bach, Vivaldi, and Telemann referencing his distinct musical style.
- Notes by Paul Winkelmans
Please note that there will be no Festival Passes available this year.
Tickets are not yet available for purchase. Tickets will be available to purchase when the Festival dates are announced.
GETTING TO CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL
The Cathedral is located on Quadra Street at Rockland Avenue.
Street parking is available on Quadra Street, Burdett Avenue, and Rockland Avenue, as well as at the south entrance to the Cathedral off Burdett.