ITALIAN PASSION: MONTEVERDI, CORELLI & MORE
Thursday, September 9th 2021 at 8PM
Alix Goolden Performance Hall
Suzie LeBlanc, 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 Frescobaldi's toccatas to Corelli's sonatas. This concert highlights the versatility of Italian expression over an ever-steady ground bass.
Antonio Bertali (1605 – 1669)
Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643)
‘Lamento dell ninfa’ from Madrigali guerrieri, et amorosi (1638)
Francesco Maria Veracini (1690 - 1768)
Sonata accademica in d Minor Op. 2 No. 12 (1744)
Passagallo: Largo assai e come stà, ma con grazia
Allegro ma non presto
Ciaccona: ma non presto
Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643)
Cento Partite sopra Passacagli, F.29, from Toccate e partite d'intavolatura, Libro 1 (1637)
Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli (1624 - 1689)
Il Marquetta (1669)
Così mi disprezzate (Aria di passacaglia), F 7.16, from Primo libro d’arie musicali per cantarsi (1630)
Arcangelo Corelli (1653 - 1713)
Trio Sonata op. 2, no. 12 (1685)
Ciaccona. Largo - Allegro
This concert is generously supported by
Prestige Pictures, Good Bros Developments,
and James Evans & Associates
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
Masks for everyone aged 12 and up are required
Once seated, audience member must remain in their seats
The venue will be sanitized before each performance
Doors will be opened 30 minutes before the performance
Concert will be about 1 hour in length with no intermission
Entrance for the concert will be at the Victoria Conservatory of Music Main Entrance- 900 Johnson Street.
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.
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.
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
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.
Girolamo Frescobaldi was born in Ferrara, a musical centre thanks to ruling D’Este family and the Duke
Alfonso, who desired daily musical entertainment for his own edification. Frescobaldi found early favour
as a musical prodigy, with keyboard instruction from the great Luzzasco Luzzaschi, as well as exposure to
many visiting musicians, such as Carlo Gesualdo and Orlando di Lasso.
After the death of the Duke, Frescobaldi was appointed organist of St Peter’s Basilica, and although the
design by Michelangelo had been finished, the additional nave was still under construction, so
Frescobaldi was limited to just two single manual organs in the side chapels to accompany the choir and
a small positive organ. Frescobaldi remained employed in Rome until 1628, when he was enticed to join
the court of Ferdinando II de’ Medici in Florence.
Frescobaldi’s greatest musical contribution came with his first book of toccatas in 1615. A detailed
preface held detailed instructions on how to approach the works, the first of its kind in the burgeoning
seconda pratica, including a discussion on varying tempo within a piece. The book was republished four
times after its original edition, with the last version in 1637 being accompanied by an aggiunta
(appendix), containing several additional compositions from the end of the composer’s lifetime. One
such piece in this appendix was his longest and greatest set of variations, the ‘Cento Partite sopra
Passacagli.’ This variation on a four-note ground bass may actually be a skillful combination of other,
shorter works, as Frescobaldi had begun experimenting with in his later years, and although the title
implies one hundred variations, there are actually about one hundred and twenty variations, if all the
diverse episodes are counted. Some players have opted to end at the hundredth variation, as a more
literal instruction from the composer, and to avoid an odd musical modulation from d to e which ends
Frescobaldi’s vocal works were perhaps less advanced than his instrumental compositions. The new
Italian vocal style was to have music subordinate to the text. Frescobaldi met Monteverdi in the fall of
1610 and would have been familiar with the famous composer’s new explorations into the art of vocal
writing. The art of secular song was more important in the Tuscany of Ferdinand II de’ Medici than in
papal Rome, and this is where Frescobaldi was residing when he published his two volumes of ‘Arie
Musicali per cantarsi.’ The operatic theatricality of Italy is present in these arias, although Frescobaldi
never wrote for the stage, and, in the Italian tradition, the themes of these anonymous texts are of love
and its confidant, Nature.
Little is known about the life of Domenico Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi Mealli. He was born in
Montepulciano in 1624, and was baptized with the name Domenico. “Giovanni Antonio” seem to be
adopted names upon entering his religious and musical studies at the chapel of San Marco in Venice,
where he joined his stepbrother, singer Giovan Battista Mealli. After his studies, his next recorded
appearance is in Innsbruck at the court of Ferdinand Charles, Archduke of Austria. Pandofli Mealli’s
opuses 3 and 4 of 1660 survive from that time, inferring the existence of an initial two opuses that have
since been lost.
Pandolfi Mealli then disappears in 1662 for a time before taking a position in Messina, where in 1669 he
would write his “Sonate cioè Balletti.” This set of 18 trio sonatas is each named after one of his musical
colleagues in the city and take the form of small suites. Musically, these sonatas may be less virtuosic
than his earlier compositions, but the difference may be for the changing tastes of the cities and the
composer’s intervening experiences. The most striking of these sonatas, Il Marquetto, is named for
Giovanni Marquett, a castrato, who was killed by Pandolfi Mealli five years later during an argument in
the cathedral. Pandolfi Mealli would then quickly flee to Spain, where he was employed at the Royal
Chapel until his death.
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
Single Tickets: $25 + tax & fees
Purchase your ticket by clicking here.
Please note that there will be no Festival Passes available this year.
GETTING TO ALIX GOOLDEN HALL
Alix Goolden Hall is located at 907 Pandora Ave.
Parking is available on the public streets in the area. There are two parking lots:
• on Pandora below Blanshard St. (behind Rotherham Place)
• at the Johnson St. Parkade, 750 Johnson Street (between Douglas and Blanshard)