by Charlotte Nediger
JACOB VAN EYCK
We open the concerts with a set of variations for solo recorder by the early seventeenth century Dutch carillonneur and recorder player Jacob van Eyck. He was carillonneur of the Domkerk, Janiskerk, Jacobikerk, and city hall in Utrecht, and director of the city’s bellworks, spearheading refinements in the casting and tuning of bells. In 1649, the sixty-year old van Eyck was offered a salary raise “provided that he would now and then in the evening entertain the people strolling in the churchyard with the sound of his little flute.” That same year he published two volumes of variations on popular tunes for solo recorder, named Der Fluyten Lust-Hof (The Flute’s Garden of Delights), presumably drawn from what he played in the churchyard.
The Four Seasons appeared in Vivaldi’s 1725 publication of twelve violin concertos entitled Il Cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (Bold Experiments with Harmony and Invention). The Seasons, full of audacious experiments of every kind, were undoubtedly the inspiration for the title. The four concertos are accompanied by four sonnets, giving detailed descriptions of the programmatic elements of the music, which paint a vivid picture of life in the Italian countryside in the eighteenth century. The concertos are dazzling proof of Vivaldi’s skill as a violinist and his ingenuity and inventiveness as a composer. We offer a respite from winter this week with Vivaldi’s wonderful depiction of spring, and encourage you to follow the text of the sonnet below.
Guint’è la primavera e festosetti
Vengon’ coprendo l’aer di nero amanto
E quindi sul fiorito ameno prato
Spring has come, and joyfully the birds
But now the sky is cloaked in black,
Then on the pleasant flower-strewn meadow,
GEORG PHILIPP TELEMANN
Another prolific composer of baroque instrumental concertos was Georg Philipp Telemann. Telemann stated that he was not a fan of the purely virtuoso solo concerto, and indeed we find that most of his concertos are more “conversational” than “exhibitionist,” and that many feature more than one solo instrument. We feature two of these this week: a Concerto for recorder and bassoon, and a Concerto for 3 violins.
Telemann was an accomplished player of wind instruments, and his writing for winds is wonderfully idiomatic — well crafted and satisfying to play. The dialogue between the recorder and bassoon in the F-Major Concerto is by turns lyrical and playful. Winds are also prominent in the Quartet in G Major, which features the same instruments as the Vivaldi Concerto da camera.
The Concerto for 3 violins appears in the second volume of Telemann’s famous publication titled Musique de table, or Tafelmusik (from which we draw our name!). The title refers to the custom of entertaining guests at ceremonial meals and banquets with music. Each of the three volumes includes an orchestral suite, a concerto for multiple instruments, and a selection of chamber music. The publication was sold on subscription, and the list of subscribers is impressive, including composers, musicians, statesmen, and nobility from all over Europe.
Telemann chooses a different orchestration for each piece in the collection, and explores different styles. The Italianate Concerto for 3 violins shows the clear influence of Vivaldi. All of the music in the three volumes is full of charm, wit, and vivacity, and is designed, ultimately, to entertain.
© Charlotte Nediger
Alison Melville, recorder soloist
Directed by Elisa Citterio
February 8–11, 2018, Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre
Jacob van Eyck c.1590–1657
The English Nightingale, from Der Fluyten Lust-Hof
Antonio Vivaldi 1678–1741
Concerto for violin in E Major, op. 8, no. 1: Spring, from The Four Seasons
Allegro – Largo – Allegro
Georg Philipp Telemann 1681–1767
Concerto for recorder & bassoon in F Major, TWV 52:F1
Largo – Vivace – Grave – Allegro
Concerto da camera for recorder, oboe, violin, bassoon & continuo
in G Minor, RV 107
Allegro – Largo – Allegro
Quartet for recorder, oboe, violin & continuo in G Major, TWV 43:G6
Allegro – Grave – Allegro
Concerto for 3 violins in F Major, from Musique de table, Book II
Allegro – Largo – Vivace
Concerto for recorder in G Major, RV 443
Allegro – Largo – Allegro molto
There will be a 20-minute intermission.