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Salute to Bach, A: Cantata No. Score, solo flute, solo oboe, solo trumpet, solo harpsichord, solo violin,strings 2,2,3,3,2. Trpts I,II trans. Trpts in D:transp.
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Score 1st movement , 2,2,2,2 — 2,2,0,0 timp, strings 8,11,6,8 cello and bass printed together, no solo piano. Score, 1,2,2,2 — 2,2,0,0 timp, flute part missing, no piano part, bass plays with cello. Score, 2,2,2,2 — 2,2,0,0 timp, strings 4,4,4,4 cello and bass printed together.
In fact, these strategic recurrences, plus the melodic imitations, the passagework, and the adjunct musical themes that separate them, produce in a loose way the most prevalent structural principle of the fast movements. Generally, the alternations of refrains and intervening episodes tally with alternations of the tutti and soli groups, respectively. Recurring melodic ideas account for two other of the most frequent principles of musical structure in the concerto grosso, those of fugue and of variation.
A fugue is based on the polyphonic treatment through extensive melodic imitation of a recurring subject, or theme. In fugal sections of a concerto grosso, tutti and soli unite as one group or alternate in expositions statements of the subject and episodes passages in which the subject appears only fragmentarily, if at all. The fugal style occurs largely in fast movements and varies from loose applications, especially among the Italians, to strict ones, especially among the Germans.
The variation process depends on continual variation of a constant factor, such as a theme or a group of harmonies. In the concerto grosso it occurs largely in slow movements; its constant factor is a simple, freely recurring bass line, or ostinato a short, repeated motive or melody. The ostinato often sounds alone in the tutti and may be played in unison at the beginning and end of the movement. To these structural types—rondo, fugue, and variation—may be added especially the binary design, with each half repeated, that prevails in Baroque dances.
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In binary form , the music of the first half moves from the tonic key to a closely related key. The second half begins in the new key and progresses back to the original key. Dances abound in concerti grossi, not only in those that are primarily orchestral suites or groups of related dance pieces as are many by Handel but in others as well.
But the average may be put at from three to five. Corelli and other Italian pioneers had led off with more movements insofar as separate movements can be distinguished from mere sectional changes in their concerti. Vivaldi reduced the number, mostly by omitting an initial slow movement that his predecessors had probably derived from the French overture. Instead, Vivaldi largely settled on and, in fact, standardized the cycle at three movements in fast—slow—fast order. He may have been influenced by the same cycle in the Italian opera sinfonia or overture.
The Germans seem to have varied the number more, with the most movements likely to be made up of relatively short dances. As usual in tonal music music based on the system of major and minor keys , additional variety within unity is achieved in the cycle of concerto grosso movements through departure from and return to the home key. Much more often than in the suite , a slow inner movement is placed in a nearly related key. Unlike the Baroque suite and sonata, in the concerto the use of interrelated musical themes is not a frequent means of linking the movements.
But the concerto grosso is like these other cycles in its dynamic tendency to progress from the more serious to the lighter movements. Each of these concerti is tied closely to a sonnet describing one of the seasons. More often a special unity results from some unusual trait of musical style or use of an instrument.
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Like the vocal-instrumental concerto before it, the concerto grosso originated and reached a first peak in Italy, then attained a further peak in Germany. French and English centres responded more than they contributed to it. Again, some of the main landmarks may be briefly noted.
The 12 concerti grossi in Opus 6 by Corelli were not first published until , the year after he died. Corelli still made the loose distinction, best known in the 17th-century sonata , between da chiesa and da camera —that is, church and court-style, or serious and light. The first eight of his concerti grossi are da chiesa church-style , in four to seven movements, the last four da camera court-style , in five movements. The maturity is marked by larger forms and broader musical architecture, including tighter organization of the rondo principle, and by more distinctive, energetic musical themes, at least rhythmically if not melodically.
There is also greater brilliance and exploitation of idiomatic instrumental techniques, including bariolage quick shifts from string to string and broken chords for the solo violin. Another characteristic is the standardization, as noted earlier, of the three-movement cycle, fast—slow—fast. French influences in Germany were considerable, too, especially where the suite touched the concerto.
This was often true in the large, resourceful, and highly varied output of the German Georg Philipp Telemann. Again, Italian influence is reflected in the many concerti by Vivaldi and others that Bach transcribed and reworked for harpsichord or for organ.
Helmut W. May
A rare opportunity to learn what mattered most to Bach in concerto structure is provided by a study of his changes in the Vivaldi models. Such changes include themes sharpened melodically and musical textures enriched by the addition of new melodic entries to contrapuntal passages or by more intensive interplay of musical motives. The designs of the musical forms themselves are pointed up by insertions of new musical material, deletions, and altered timing of phrases and entries. Bach summed up the Baroque concerto as he did the cantata , fugue, and other Baroque genres.
Besides the transcriptions and the magnificent six Brandenburg Concertos , with all their own varieties of scoring, he left concerti in which the solo requirements are one violin; two violins; flute , violin, and harpsichord; violin and oboe; one harpsichord; two harpsichords; three harpsichords; and four harpsichords.
The majority of the harpsichord concerti are further transcriptions and reworkings, some not yet tracked to their sources. These concerti, like the Brandenburg Concerto No.
Concerto Grosso Op.6 No.8 'Christmas Concerto' (Violin 2 part)
Handel left around 35 concerti in all about —50 , including three sets of organ concerti with oboe and strings; one set for strings and winds Opus 3 ; one set in the tutti—soli setting for strings alone Opus 6 that Corelli had used; and several concerti not in sets. Among the last are two works more properly classified in his day as trio sonatas works usually for two violins and basso continuo but sometimes for orchestra. Thanks to his unmatched skill, imagination, good timing, and almost childlike enthusiasm, there is also a feeling of extraordinary vitality, robustness, and breadth in the concerti, especially in the finest of the sets, the Twelve Grand Concertos that is, concerti grossi as translated then , Opus 6.
The exploitation of the tutti—soli opposition is less in Opus 3, although the instrumental scoring is more restricted in Opus 6. But in both sets the variety of instrumental combinations is exceptional, even from movement to movement. In Opus 3, No.
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These organ concerti were widely copied by minor followers of Handel in England. Essential to that definition is the interrelation of orchestra and soloist, not soli. Whereas a concertino of soli had been the norm before , with a single soloist being a variant or reduction of the concertino idea, the single soloist became the norm after The concerto grosso may be said to have dissolved into the solo concerto and the sinfonia concertante. There are differences between the earlier solo part, which was a minimal concertino, and the later solo part, which was a self-sufficient adversary to the orchestra.
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There is also a difference in scoring between the two types of concerto, for at the time that the concerto grosso was being replaced by the solo concerto the basso continuo was falling into disuse. You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.