Divertimenti Viennesi: Von Dittersdorf, Vanhal & J.M. Haydn

In this video

Stylish, historically informed performances of 18th-century chamber music for violin, viola and double-bass.

Composers: Jan Krtitel vanhal, Johann Michael Haydn, Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf
Artists: Musica Elegentia, Matteo Cicchitti

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All three composers gathered together on this unique compilation were active in Vienna in the last half of the 18th century, and all had mastered the craft of writing music for pleasure – as much in the playing as the listening – rather than devotion or edification. They were also expert string players – Dittersdorf and Vanhal formed the other two members of a famous ‘composers’ quartet’ that included Joseph Haydn (younger brother to Michael) and Mozart – and so wrote these divertimentos from the inside, as it were.

The Divertimenti included in the CD were composed in the 1760s. They are all fairly brief, multi-movement pieces, easy on the ear and of fairly simple construction, with the first violin taking the lion’s share of the melody. However, a little closer listening will reveal many small refinements in the secondary parts (viola e violone), which not only support the main part, but interact with it in lively musical conversation: an inter instrumental dialogue which is particularly emphasised in this recording.

Michael Haydn’s C major Divertimento P.110 has the most conventional, four-movement structure, whereas Vanhal’s symmetrical design encloses a lovely Adagio within a pair of minuets, a free-flowing first movement and a syncopated finale bristling with energy and high spirits. The six trios by Dittersdorf are all two-movement pieces, pairing a quick introduction with a gentler minuet. The common but unusual element to the scoring of all the music on this album is the absence of cello in the basso continuo role, which is written down the octave to be played by a violone or double bass. This often creates a gruff or humorous character – especially in Michael Haydn’s Divertimento – but Vanhal in particular requires a musician of agility to zip up and down the instrument and writes for it as a deeper cello.

Track list:
00:00:00 Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf: Six String Trios, Trio I: I. Allegro
0:04:31 Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf: Six String Trios, Trio I: II. Minuetto
00:09:13 Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf: Six String Trios, Trio II: I. Andante
00:14:14 Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf: Six String Trios, Trio II: II. Minuetto
00:16:34 Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf: Six String Trios, Trio III: I. Presto
00:20:58 Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf: Six String Trios, Trio III: II. Minuetto
00:23:46 Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf: Six String Trios, Trio IV: I. Allegro moderato
00:28:42 Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf: Six String Trios, Trio IV: II. Minuetto
00:33:47 Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf: Six String Trios, Trio V: I. Allegro
00:39:06 Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf: Six String Trios, Trio V: II. Minuetto
00:45:43 Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf: Six String Trios, Trio VI: I. Allegro
00:50:23 Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf: Six String Trios, Trio VI: II. Minuetto
00:54:07 Jan Krtitel vanhal: Divertimento in G Major: I. Allegro
00:57:22 Jan Krtitel vanhal: Divertimento in G Major: II. Minuetto
01:00:30 Jan Krtitel vanhal: Divertimento in G Major: III. Adagio
01:04:36 Jan Krtitel vanhal: Divertimento in G Major: IV. Minuetto
01:09:03 Jan Krtitel vanhal: Divertimento in G Major: V. Allegro
01:11:43 Johann Michael Haydn: Divertimento in C Major: I. Allegro moderato
01:18:21 Johann Michael Haydn: Divertimento in C Major: II. Adagio
01:23:12 Johann Michael Haydn: Divertimento in C Major: III. Minuetto
01:25:44 Johann Michael Haydn: Divertimento in C Major: VI. Finale Presto

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