Baroque String Extravaganza
Including “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
— Charles Downey, Washington Post
Ingrid Matthews & Rachell Ellen Wong
Violin & ViolA
Johann Sebastian Bach:
Concerto in A Major, BWV 1055, for harpsichord, strings, and continuo
Sonata in G Minor, op. 2, no. 6, for two violins, two violas, and continuo
Georg Philipp Telemann:
Concerto in G Major, TWV 51:G9, for viola, strings, and continuo
Robert de Viseé:
Prelude in A Minor for theorbo
Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre:
Sonata no. 5 in A Minor for violin and continuo
“Winter” Concerto in F Minor, op. 8, no. 4, for violin, strings, and continuo
Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello:
Chaconne in A Major for strings and continuo
“Matthews launched into florid, almost operatic lines with tremendous dash and flair, matched in every measure by Schenkman’s intuitive keyboard playing.”
— Seattle Times
There is much joy in the music of the High Baroque and we would like to bring 2018 to a close with as much of that joy as possible. Of course Baroque composers recognized and exploited the fact that any emotional state is intensified by juxtaposition with its opposite and so it is with the music on tonight’s program.
J. S. Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto in A Major is really more of a work of chamber music — a quintet for harpsichord, two violins, viola, and continuo – than a concerto in the more modern sense with one soloist pitted against a large ensemble.
As in many Baroque concertos, two ebullient outer movements are contrasted with a sorrowful aria-like movement in between. Bach’s concertos owe much to the influence of his friend Georg Philipp Telemann and their slightly older Italian contemporaries Tomaso Albinoni and Antonino Vivaldi.
With the music of De Visée and Jacquet de la Guerre we get a glimpse into the French world of Louis XIV. De Visée was one of the king’s chamber musicians and later guitar teacher to Louis XV. Jacquet de la Guerre was brought to court as a child prodigy and became a favorite of the king’s and one of very few with permission to dedicate works to him. In addition to six violin sonatas she published two books of harpsichord suites, three books of chamber cantatas, and an opera.
Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” — the first four concertos from his op. 8 –are among the most popular works of all of Western Art Music. Vivaldi composed or perhaps borrowed sonnets describing each of the seasons and included the words with the music.
Here is a translation of the sonnet for Winter:
To tremble from cold in the icy snow,
In the harsh breath of a horrible wind;
To run, stamping one’s feet every moment,
Our teeth chattering in the extreme cold.
Before the fire to pass peaceful,
Contented days while the rain outside pours down.
We tread the icy path slowly and cautiously,
for fear of tripping and falling.
Then turn abruptly, slip, crash on the ground and,
rising, hasten on across the ice lest it cracks up.
We feel the chill north winds course through the home
despite the locked and bolted doors…
this is winter, which nonetheless
brings its own delights.