VIVALDI SENZA BASSO
Antonio Vivaldi Series
Baltic Baroque, kunstiline juht Grigori Maltizov
Third record of the Vivaldi Series. Released on Jan 18th, 2014.
… sehr diskret gegenüber den beiden phänomenal virtuosen Geigen, Maria Krestinskaya und Evgeny Sviridov, die ohnehin mit kräftiger Bogenführung, interessanten Phrasierungen und warm leuchtenden Farben alle Aufmerksamkeit auf sich ziehen. (Pizzicato)
|1–3||Suonata a 2 Violini da suonarsi anco senza il Basso, RV 77||12:48|
|4–6||Prima Suonata da Camera a 2 Violini anco senza Basso se piace, RV 70||11:51|
|7–9||Seconda Suonata a 2 Violini da Camera da suonarsi anco senza Basso, RV 71||11:43|
|10–12||Terza Suonata a 2 da Camera da suonarsi anco senza Basso, RV 68||9:54|
#1, Suonata a 2 Violini da suonarsi anco senza il Basso RV 77, Mov I Allegro, fragm, 3 min 6 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
#12, Terza Suonata a 2 da Camera da suonarsi anco senza Basso RV 68, Mov III Allegro, fragm, 2 min 13 sec, mp3, 320 Kbps
Ensemble Baltic Baroque on period instruments
Directed by Grigori Maltizov
Maria Krestinskaya − baroque violin
Evgeny Sviridov − baroque violin
Imbi Tarum − harpsichord
Recorded in 2013 in House of the Blackheads, Tallinn, Estonia
Recordist − Margo Kõlar
Edited and mastered by Maido Maadik
Front cover painting by Claude Lorrain
Design by Mart Kivisild
Liner notes by Anna Bulycheva
Translations by Inna Kivi and Tiina Jokinen
Executive producer − Peeter Vähi
On period instruments: Directed by Grigori Maltizov, Maria Krestinskaya − baroque violin (violins by Giovanni Paolo Maggini, 1627, Italy (#1−3, #7−9) and by Rabinovich after Stradivari, 2011, Russia (#4−6, #10−12), Evgeny Sviridov − baroque violin (violin by anonymous, 18th century, Italy), Imbi Tarum − harpsichord (#4−6, #10−12) (Two-manual French harpsichord by Samuli Siponmaa after Blanchet, 1994)
Liner notes in Estonian, Russian and English languages
© ERP, Tallinn
The current CD presents four sonatas by Antonio Vivaldi for two violins with optional basso continuo. Sonata RV 70 bears the title Prima Suonata Da Camera a 2 Violini anco senza Basso se piace Del Vivaldi − the first chamber sonata for two violins, if desired, to be played without the bass, work by Vivaldi. The titles of the other sonatas vary a little containing an amendment: da suonarsi anco senza Basso (may optionally be performed without the bass). Sonata RV 71 has been numbered 2 by the composer, RV 68, in its turn, 3 and RV 77 has not been given a number at all.
Regarding style and composition those four sonatas are closely related, all having three movements with no dance movement present. Nevertheless, the composer called them chamber sonatas (da camera), thus differentiating them from the church sonatas (da chiesa) which they resembled according his contemproraries’ understanding. Possibly he should have made a note that despite the absence of dance movements the sonatas were not meant to be performed in a church. Another interesting aspect is that the slow movements of all the four sonatas are in minor keys.
The autographs of the sonatas are preserved in the so-called Turin collection which, once upon a time, belonged to Count Giacomo Durazzo who after Vivaldi’s death purchased a considerable number of his manuscripts. In the 1930s, thanks to the efforts of several enthusiasts, a part of the Count’s collection was transferred to the National Library of Turin, thus through collecting and performing his music, giving rise to Vivaldi’s renaissance in the 20th century.
In his book Vivaldi (London, 1978) Michael Talbot writes: “These sonatas were most likely composed to order, perhaps for a visitor from northern Europe. (Another possibility is that they were written for Vivaldi to play with his father on their central European tour of 1729−1730. The absence of a bass part would have made them very suitable for impromptu performance in conditions where no cello or harpsichord was to hand.) All follow the concerto in having three movements (rather than the four or five more usual in the church or composite church-chamber sonata), but the binary form common to all the movements is typical of the sonata in the closing decades of the baroque period. The virtuosic handling and constant interplay of the violins recalls Vivaldi’s double concertos. These fine, unusual works deserve to be better known.”
Peter Ryom assumes that the sonatas were not composed before 1720, by which time Vivaldi had already lost interest in the old-fashioned trio sonata for two violins and basso continuo (his trio sonatas under op 1 and 5 were published accordingly, no later than 1705 and 1706). The four scores look exactly like trio scores: two lines for the violin parts and one for the bass. But only at the first glance. At a closer look, however, one sees that the bass only doubles the lowest notes, at times, of one and, at times, of the other violin part. That, in its turn, means that most probably the sonatas were born as violin duets without accompaniment (though rare, they can be encountered among the works of Biber, Telemann and Leclair in the 17th and 18th centuries). It is possible that Vivaldi added the bass accompaniment later so that the ensemble also could include cello, harpsichord or both, while not making it mandatory.
Ensemble Baltic Baroque has recorded the sonatas in both versions: RV 68 and 70 are performed with harpsichord while RV 71 and 77 are without accompaniment. Either version has its advantages. The harpsichord enriches the timbre palette and accentuates the pulse of the rhythm. At the same time, the two violins alone, playing one to one, transfer music into the flow of melodic energy. In the finale of sonata RV 68 (in F) Vivaldi has intentionally left long pauses in the bass part − so perfect are the violin parts in themselves.
No matter how Vivaldi worked on those sonatas, it is evident that he had them in mind for a long time. Michael Talbot is correct when he talks about their close relationship to the double concertos. Indeed, the second movement of sonata RV 71 (in G major) is almost identical, with some minor changes, to the slow movement of the concerto for two violins and orchestra RV 561. Bigger changes were anyway unnecessary, as in the middle movements of the concerto the orchestra has traditionally no part, leaving the soloists with the continuo accompaniment. Regarding the fast movements of the sonata and concerto, they are based on the same themes with the development being more modest in the sonata while in the concerto it is more extensive, built on the interplay of orchestral ritornellos and violin solos.
Most probably the sonata was composed before the concerto, though theoretically the reverse order of things is also possible: the transformation of the concerto into a sonata. Of all the four sonatas RV 71 seems to have the richest texture, at times light and aery, at times maximally sonorous.
Both violin parts in all the sonatas are equal with every musical phrase in one immediately repeated in the other. This technique could make the music monotonous, were it not for Vivaldi’s skilful combination of the phrases with different lengths, thus avoiding inertia. Overtaking the themes from one another, the violins seem to be in constant competition. There are especially many unexpected turns in the first movement of sonata RV 70 (in F) where even a fleeting bagpipe-like episode in minor can be observed. The second movement (a modestly slow Larghetto) of that sonata is composed in the old-fashioned manner.
The same can be said about the Andante from sonata RV 77-1 (in B-flat major). On the other hand, the fast movements of the latter are real fireworks of fantasy. What can we not find here: stormily chandelling passages, moody rhythms, cascades of triplets − their constant interplay leaves no space for recovery.
To date we do not know exactly how many sonatas da suonarsi anco senza basso Vivaldi has composed. It cannot be assumed that Count Durazzo did not collect other similar sonatas and works and at some point in the future, someone discovers these as well.
Special thanks: Vladimir Volohhonski, Aleksandr Volohhonski, Aleksei Chulets, Vladimir Konkov, Olga Kozlovskaja, Deniss Lazarevs