The Largo from Vivaldi’s Concerto in C Major, RV 443, performed on original instruments by the Early Music ensemble Voices of Music; Hanneke van Proosdij, sopranino recorder.
The concerto RV 443 for sopranino recorder (titled flautino—a little recorder) finds Vivaldi in a balanced frame of compositional mind: phrases are neatly turned, the suave Largo is fluid and expressive, and the melodic lines are tempered by the harmonic and contrapuntal framework; that is, the technical demands rarely cross the lines of taste into the realm of pure display. A rubric on the manuscript reads “Gl’istromti trasportati alla 4a” (the instruments transposed a fourth) which has led some scholars to believe that the entire work should be played a fourth lower. As with many cryptic comments on manuscripts, more questions are inevitably raised than answered: if Vivaldi had desired a transposition, it would have been much more practical—and easier—to have written the recorder part in a transposing key and the string parts at sounding pitch. In addition, if the string parts are transposed down a fourth, the cello part goes below the range of the instrument, and the overall ambitus of the music lies in a muddy acoustical range. A possible scenario is that the concerto was composed as written, and the instruction added at a later point for an alternative performance on a lower instrument or different pitch.
Whether at written pitch or a fourth lower, the concerto is a real gem!
The Musicians and their Instruments
Voices of Music performs on original instruments: hear the music played on instruments from the time of the composer.
David Tayler & Hanneke van Proosdij
Lisa Grodin, baroque viola by Mathias Eberl, Salzburg, Austria, 1680
Kati Kyme, baroque violin by Johann Gottlob Pfretzschner, Mittenwald, Germany, 1791
Carla Moore, baroque violin by Johann Georg Thir, Vienna, Austria, 1754
Maxine Nemerovski, baroque violin by Timothy Johnson,
Bloomington, Indiana, 1999 (after Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, Italy, 17th century)
Farley Pearce, violone by George Stoppani, Manchester, 1985, after Amati, 1560
Hanneke van Proosdij, Italian single manual harpsichord by Johannes Klinkhamer,
Amsterdam, 2000, after Cristofori, Florence, c1725
Sopranino recorder by Alec Loretto, New Zealand, 2001
after Stanesby Jr., London, c1725
William Skeen, baroque cello by Gianbattista Grancino, Milan, 1725
David Tayler, archlute by Andreas von Holst, Munich, 2012,
after Magno Tieffenbrucker, Venice, c1610
Tanya Tomkins, baroque cello, Lockey Hill, London, 1798
Gabrielle Wunsch, baroque violin by Lorenzo Carcassi, 1764.