The opening allegro from Vivaldi’s recorder concerto in C Major, RV 443; Hanneke van Proosdij, sopranino recorder. Live, 4K UHD video from the Berkeley Early Music Festival, June 2016.
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Every two years, the San Francisco Early Music Society presents some of the finest ensembles in the world at the Berkeley Early Music Festival; we hope you enjoy this work from the “Art of the Baroque Violin” concert with Rachel Podger.
Voices of Music
Hanneke van Proosdij & David Tayler, directors
Hanneke van Proosdij, sopranino recorder by Alec Loretto, Auckland, 2001, after Stanesby Jr., London, c1725
Rachel Podger, baroque violin by Pesarinius, Genoa, 1739
Elizabeth Blumenstock, baroque violin by Andrea Guarneri, Cremona, 1660
Carla Moore, baroque violin by Johann Georg Thir, Vienna, Austria, 1754
Kati Kyme, baroque violin by Johann Gottlob Pfretzschner, Mittenwald, 1791
Lisa Grodin, baroque viola by Mathias Eberl, Salzburg, Austria, 1680
William Skeen, five string baroque cello, Anonymous, Italy, c1680
Farley Pearce, violone by George Stoppani, Manchester, 1985, after Amati, 1560
Katherine Heater, Italian single manual harpsichord by Johannes Klinkhamer, Amsterdam, 2000, after Cristofori, Florence, c1725
David Tayler, archlute by Andreas von Holst, Munich, 2010.
The sprightly 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 slow movement is fluid and expressive, and the extraordinarily passagework is ever so slightly 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 musician of Vivaldi’s time would have found the turgid discussions of transposition highly amusing and presumably would have said: “Why not play it in the key that sounds best with the instruments at hand?” As written, the concerto is bright, convincing and clear.