March 15, 2020
benaroya hall, seattle

Vivaldi in Paris: Baroque Virtuosity



Hear the live on tape complete studio concert at any time after March 15 at 7:00 PM.


Sonatas by Vivaldi and his French contemporaries, introducing recorder phenom and international competition winner Martin Bernstein.

“A young recorder virtuoso…whose musicality is inspiring

— Marakay Rogers, Broadway World


Martin Bernstein


Anna Marsh

Byron Schenkman



Nicolas Chédeville:

Sonata no. 1 in C Major from “Il Pastor Fido”

Antonio Vivaldi:

Sonata in C Minor, RV 8

Marie-Emmanuelle Bayon:

Harpsichord sonata in E-flat Major, op. 1, no. 3

Francois Couperin:

Les Bergeries (18th-century arrangement for bassoon and continuo)

Joseph Bodin de Boismortier:

Rigaudons in D Minor for bassoon and continuo

Joseph Bodin de Boismortier:

Trio in G Minor, op. 37, no. 4

Joseph Bodin de Boismortier:

Harpsichord suite in G Minor

Jean-Marie Leclair:

Sonata in C, op. 2, no. 1

Antonio Vivaldi:

Trio in A Minor, RV 86

“One highlight of the concert was the playing of Martin Bernstein, the winner of Piffaro’s 2013 National Recorder Competition. He played with the technical fluency and interpretive sophistication of a seasoned, veteran musician.”

— Michael Caruso

Program Notes

Around 1737 a set of six sonatas was published in Paris as Il Pastor Fido (The Faithful Shepherd), op. 13 by Antonio Vivaldi. This collection of pieces for bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, recorder, oboe, or violin, with continuo accompaniment, was not actually by Vivaldi. The composer Nicolas Chédeville, and his publisher Élisabeth-Catherine Boivin, were merely making the most of the current Parisian fashion for Italian music in general and Vivaldi’s name in particular. Here and there Chédeville included bits of music by Vivaldi, or of music that might sound like Vivaldi, but by and large this is typical French domestic music from the time of Louis XV.

The long list of possible instruments on the title page of Il Pastor Fido was another ploy to sell as many copies as possible. This was fairly standard practice in the early 18th century and much of the music of that time is easily adaptable to diverse instruments. Thus we did not hesitate to adapt for recorder a violin sonata from the Opus Two set by the real Antonio Vivaldi, or to include an 18th century bassoon arrangement of François Couperin’s Les Bergeries (more shepherd music!), originally for harpsichord solo.
The blending of French and Italian styles, popular in Paris in the late Baroque era, led directly to the Classical style with its simpler harmonies, regular phrase lengths, and virtuosic sequences. The six sonatas, opus one, by Marie-Emmanuelle Bayon (Paris, 1769) are early examples of this increasingly popular new musical language. In addition to sonatas for keyboard and violin, Bayon was best known for her comic opera Fleur d’épine (Thorny flower), published under her married name Bayon-Louis.

 Jean-Marie Leclair studied in Italy before settling in Paris, where he was in demand as a virtuoso violinist, a sort of French version of Vivaldi. Much of Leclair’s violin music is ferociously difficult and completely idiomatic to the violin; however he intended some of the sonatas, including the one on tonight’s program, to be playable by either violin or flute.

Joseph Bodin de Boismortier was one of the first composers to make a living entirely by selling music to the public, including many charming and delightful pieces suitable for amateurs. We decided that one of his trios for one treble and one bass instrument with continuo accompaniment would be a good French counterpart to the Vivaldi trio we are playing, a rare piece specifically for recorder, bassoon, and continuo.


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