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Concerto for two violins and strings in C major RV 505

Antonio Vivaldi (b. 1678 - d. 1741)

Concerto Copenhagen (photo credit: Keith Saunders)

Concerto Copenhagen (photo credit: Keith Saunders)

Composer
Antonio Vivaldi (b. 1678 - d. 1741)
Composition Year
after 1723
Work Movements
1. Allegro
2. Andante
3. Allegro non molto e cantabile
Artists
Concerto Copenhagen (Peter Spissky, Fredrik From, Antina Hugosson [violins], Torbjörn Köhl [viola], Kate Hearne [cello], Mattias Frostenson [bass], Fredrik Bock [archlute, Guitar], Lars-Ulrik Mortensen [harpsichord, Director])

Programme Note Writer:
© Norah O' Leary

One of Vivaldi’s most assiduous biographers has pointed out that over three hundred years after the composer’s birth there is still a huge amount we do not know about him. There are tantalising gaps in his biography and the chronology of his music is still mostly guesswork. The most sobering thought is that we are still unfamiliar as listeners with well over half his surviving music. There are for instance 324 known solo concertos and 46 double concertos. As with most music from the Baroque period, it is very often a matter of luck as to whether the music survives.

In Vivaldi’s time and earlier music circulated almost entirely in manuscript form and most likely in the hand of a professional copyist. This situation was only gradually changed by the rise of a vigorous music-publishing industry in northern Europe, in particular in the Netherlands. The most famous of these was Estienne Roger from Amsterdam, who used the engraving technique as opposed to the more laborious type-setting in an archaic font used by the Italian publishers. In the absence of copyright Roger would pirate manuscripts without the composer’s consent (and correction of proofs) and publish them with impunity.

In this haphazard environment it is almost surprising that any music survives at all. The Vivaldi oeuvre was of course rescued by the extraordinary discovery in the 1920s of the composer’s autograph manuscript books – now known as the Turin Manuscripts - in two private libraries containing around 450 works, a large proportion of which were completely unknown. A comparatively recent development has been the general acceptance of the RV (Ryom Verzeichnis) catalogue published by the Danish scholar Peter Ryom. This lists 740 works catalogued according to instrumentation and genre rather than date of composition (which are mostly unknown).

Vivaldi was a spectacular violin virtuoso so all his violin concertos are a test of the soloist’s virtuosity. In the double concertos the degree of virtuosity required is extraordinary. In addition the two soloists play with the first violins in the ensemble when not playing their solo parts. The vigorous opening ritornello serves as a robust framework for the solo passages, whose virtuosity reaches unimaginable heights. In the Largo the intertwining melodies of the two soloists dance gravely above the slow tread of the strings. The vigorous Finale gives the soloists more opportunity to display their skills.

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Concerto for two violins and strings in C major RV 505

Composer: Antonio Vivaldi (b. 1678 - d. 1741)
Performance date: Friday 8th July 2016
Venue: St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland

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Composer Antonio Vivaldi (b. 1678 - d. 1741)
Work Title Concerto for two violins and strings in C major RV 505
Composition Year after 1723
Work Movements 1. Allegro
2. Andante
3. Allegro non molto e cantabile
Artist(s) Concerto Copenhagen (Peter Spissky, Fredrik From, Antina Hugosson [violins], Torbjörn Köhl [viola], Kate Hearne [cello], Mattias Frostenson [bass], Fredrik Bock [archlute, Guitar], Lars-Ulrik Mortensen [harpsichord, Director])
Performance Date Friday 8th July 2016
Performance Venue St. Brendan's Church, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland
Event Coffee Concert
Duration 00:10:25
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Large Mixed Ensemble
Instrumentation 2vn (3vn, va, vc, db, lute, hpd)
Programme Note Writer © Norah O' Leary

One of Vivaldi’s most assiduous biographers has pointed out that over three hundred years after the composer’s birth there is still a huge amount we do not know about him. There are tantalising gaps in his biography and the chronology of his music is still mostly guesswork. The most sobering thought is that we are still unfamiliar as listeners with well over half his surviving music. There are for instance 324 known solo concertos and 46 double concertos. As with most music from the Baroque period, it is very often a matter of luck as to whether the music survives.

In Vivaldi’s time and earlier music circulated almost entirely in manuscript form and most likely in the hand of a professional copyist. This situation was only gradually changed by the rise of a vigorous music-publishing industry in northern Europe, in particular in the Netherlands. The most famous of these was Estienne Roger from Amsterdam, who used the engraving technique as opposed to the more laborious type-setting in an archaic font used by the Italian publishers. In the absence of copyright Roger would pirate manuscripts without the composer’s consent (and correction of proofs) and publish them with impunity.

In this haphazard environment it is almost surprising that any music survives at all. The Vivaldi oeuvre was of course rescued by the extraordinary discovery in the 1920s of the composer’s autograph manuscript books – now known as the Turin Manuscripts - in two private libraries containing around 450 works, a large proportion of which were completely unknown. A comparatively recent development has been the general acceptance of the RV (Ryom Verzeichnis) catalogue published by the Danish scholar Peter Ryom. This lists 740 works catalogued according to instrumentation and genre rather than date of composition (which are mostly unknown).

Vivaldi was a spectacular violin virtuoso so all his violin concertos are a test of the soloist’s virtuosity. In the double concertos the degree of virtuosity required is extraordinary. In addition the two soloists play with the first violins in the ensemble when not playing their solo parts. The vigorous opening ritornello serves as a robust framework for the solo passages, whose virtuosity reaches unimaginable heights. In the Largo the intertwining melodies of the two soloists dance gravely above the slow tread of the strings. The vigorous Finale gives the soloists more opportunity to display their skills.