Vivaldi: Violin Sonata No. 4 in F Major, RV. 20: II. Allemanda. Allegro

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This set is, despite its misleading early opus number, very much the work of the mature Vivaldi, now 40 years of age and a leading light of the vibrant Venetian musical scene, producing at an astonishing rate not only concertos for the adroit pupils of the Ospedale della Pietà where he was a much-loved music master, but also entertainments of varying scale for more public events and audiences. These sonatas are but for two or three performers, or even four: a moot point for musicologists. L’Arte dell’Arco follow modern scholarly practice in assigning the ‘accompaniment’ to the virtuoso solo instrument to a continuo group of cello, keyboard and plucked instruments, though they take care to offer instrumental colours as variegated as possible by alternating between harpsichord and chamber organ, and theorbo and Baroque guitar, as the character of the musintal craftsmanship, continually appears to demand or request it. The sonatas were written with publication in mind, not in Venice but Amsterdam, then the home of instrumental music publishing, and they take their place within his carefully constructed 12 opus collections as a sophisticated set of sonatas displaying all the different characters of the Italian Baroque school of instrumental craftsmanship, continually enlivened by Vivaldi’s unique brand of melodic genius.

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