Music, Vivaldi: Bassoon concerto (in E minor)

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Vivaldi background info

  • Employed by Pio Ospedale dell Pietà (Orphanage/conservatoire), in Venice
  • Title was - 'Maestro di violino'
  • Took Holy orders in the Church & given the name the "Red Priest"
  • Vivaldi was a very talented musician

Violinist, Composer and director of Operas

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Vivaldi & the Concerto

There are typically 3 movements in Vivaldi's Concertos (quick-slow-quick)

  • Written for pairs/groups of soloists, however, MOST OF HIS CONCERTOS WERE FOR SOLOISTS
  • Wrote a total of 39 Bassoon concertos (suggests girls in conservatoir could play this standard of music)
  • Wrote 230 Violin Concertos (Vivaldi played Violin)
  • Ritornello Form alternates the main theme played by the orchestra, with soloist sections

Vivaldi's development of Ritornello Form = in quick movements

  • Memorable melodies
  • Strong rhythms
  • Establishes clear sense of tonic at beginning
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Ritornello 1

  • Bar 1 = ornamentation (appogiaturas)
  • Bar 2 = Lombardic rhythms/ Scotch snap
  • Vln. 2 has melody - wide intervals, each note played on differnt string
  • Accompaniment of repeated notes (Violas & Continuo)
  • Triple stopping (Vln. 1) - emphasis on loud E minor chord
  • Secondary theme (b) introduced - strong chord, then descending octave scale

Contrasting sounds

Bass = arpeggio figure to link 3 phrases

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Solo 1

  • Bassoon accompanied by continuo (cello & harpsichord)
  • Harmony changes twice a bar
  • Uses musical ideas from opening ritornello
  • Bassoon opens with demisemiquaver arpeggios
  • Call & answer between Vlns. & Bassoon
  • Vivaldi uses descending sequence through Circle of 5ths
  • Virtuoso features:

Rapid demisemiquaver arpeggios

Wide leaps in melody

Trills

Chromatic passages in high register

Rapid descending scale (demisemiquaver)

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Ritornello 2

  • Very short
  • Key of B minor established (contrasting sound)
  • Avoids major keys
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Solo 2

  • Bassoon takes up 'b' figure - 'b' theme of ritornello
  • Newly developed material
  • Vlns drop out fully, therefore only continuo
  • Solo = free to develop & explore ideas
  • Virtuoso bassoon writing:

Movement between register, wide leaps (bars 29-37)

Demisemiquaver passage work (bars 31-32)

Ornamentation - Trills & acciaccatura (bars 29-35)

Decoration of melodic line (bars 33-35)

Sustained melodic phrases (bars 33-37)

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Ritornello 3

  • A minor (longest of ritornello restatements)
  • Quickly modulating to the Tonic (E minor)
  • Lombaric rhythm
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Solo 3 (longest solo section)

  • Harmonic rhythm = 2 chords per bar
  • Violins briefly interject with demisemiquaver arpeggio
  • Bars 54-57 = new material of triplet semiquavers
  • Harmony & textre = highly expressive effect
  • Imaginative touch - Vln trills
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Ritornello 4 (the ending)

  • Final 2 bars repeat octave unison figure (drawing the end of the piece)
  • Sounding like an echo (use of dynamics)
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