Scott Reiss & Hesperus | Baroque Recorder Concerti

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Baroque Recorder Concerti

by Scott Reiss & Hesperus

Scott Reiss (1953-2005), recorder player extraordinaire, at his best in this collection of six recorder concerti originally released in 1988. Works by Vivaldi, Telemann, Naudot and Babell, plus the first recording of the Graupner.
Genre: Classical: Baroque
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Concerto in C Major, Op. XVII: I. Allegro
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
3:23 $0.99
2. Concerto in C Major, Op. XVII: II. Adagio
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
2:45 $0.99
3. Concerto in C Major, Op. XVII: III. Allegro 2
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
2:46 $0.99
4. Concerto in D Major, Op X: I. Allegro
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
4:39 $0.99
5. Concerto in D Major, Op X: II. Solo cantabile
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
2:58 $0.99
6. Concerto in D Major ,Op X: III. Allegro 2
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
3:14 $0.99
7. Concert in C Major, TWV 51:c1: I. Allegretto
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
3:19 $0.99
8. Concert in C Major, TWV 51:c1: II. Allegro
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
3:56 $0.99
9. Concert in C Major, TWV 51:c1: III. Andante
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
4:43 $0.99
10. Concert in C Major, TWV 51:c1: IV. Tempo di minuet
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
6:19 $0.99
11. Concerto in D Minor, Op. 3: I. Adagio
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
2:56 $0.99
12. Concerto in D Minor, Op. 3: II. Allegro
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
4:59 $0.99
13. Concerto in D Minor, Op. 3: III. Adagio 2
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
4:39 $0.99
14. Concerto in D Minor, Op. 3: IV. Allegro 2
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
2:25 $0.99
15. Concerto in F Major: I. Allegro
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
4:15 $0.99
16. Concerto in F Major: II.. Andante pizzicato
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
2:14 $0.99
17. Concerto in F Major: III. Allegro 2
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
3:59 $0.99
18. Concerto in C Major, Rv 444 P78: I. Allegro non molto
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
4:10 $0.99
19. Concerto in C Major, Rv 444 P78: II. Largo
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
1:48 $0.99
20. Concerto in C Major, Rv 444 P78: III. Allegro molto
Scott Reiss & Hesperus
3:02 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

In the 1660s, a group of instrument makers associated with the French court, notably members of the Hotteterre and Philidor families, began redesigning the woodwind instruments of the day. The Renaissance recorder had been made in one piece with a basically cylindrical bore; it generally had a fairly restricted range and a relatively pure tone, favoring the lower harmonics- The new Baroque recorder was made in three sections with a basically conical bore and intricate Baroque-style turnings; it had a wider range and its sound was both louder and edgier, containing more of the higher harmonics.

By the turn of the century, the Baroque recorder had established itself as a favorite chamber music instrument of the amateur, particularly in England and Germany Between about 1690 and 1740, hundreds of recorder duets and sonatas (generally for one or two recorders and basso continuo) were written and published, and countless songs and arias were transposed for the instrument. Then the recorder quickly lost its popularity, being replaced as favorite amateur instrument by the flute, the flexible dynamic range and more "personal" tone quality of which were more suited to the early Classical music of the mid- 18th century. (The recorder continued in use to a small extent among amateurs until the early 19th century, especially in eastern Europe, then was forgotten until its revival by Arnold Dolmetsch and others in the early 20th century)

Professional woodwind players played the same recorder duets and sonatas as the amateurs, and also used recorders in the accompaniment of vocal music, especially to depict birdsong, death, grief, love, the pastoral, peace, and the supernatural. When the solo concerto-that is, a concerto for a single soloist with orchestra- was developed in Italy in the late 1690s, it soon became a virtuoso medium, written with particular professional performers in mind. Naturally, the first solo instrument used was the violin, although during the next decade composers began to turn to other instruments, including woodwinds. Roughly 50 solo recorder concertos have come down to us from the early 18th century, mostly in manuscript. Because few amateurs had the technical ability to play the solo parts or the musical resources to provide the necessary accompanists, such concertos were unsuitable for sale by publishers, who had a largely amateur market. It is notable that only 13 were published--those by William Babell, John Baston, and Robert Woodcock, in England where the large numbers of both amateurs and professionals could have justified the risk of publication--and that even these concertos came out ten to twenty years after they were written.

Numerically, concertos formed a relatively small part of the recorder repertory in the Baroque era. Yet, for the virtuoso performer today the concertos are a highly significant part of that repertory, posing some of its greatest technical and musical challenges. This recording presents an overview of the genre, with examples from the four major musical nations of Europe: England, France, Germany and Italy. When we think of the Baroque solo concerto, we tend to expect most movements to be in the ritornello form made popular by Antonio Vivaldi. As the examples on this recording show, however, the genre could accommodate a wide range of compositional approaches-

I. Vivaldi's recorder concertos were probably written for the celebrated Venetian girls' orphanage called Pio Ospedale della Pietà. The composer taught there from 1703 to 1718, and continued to supply concertos for its musicians for the rest of his life- Many of the Pietà girls developed into performers of the highest technical accomplishment. The player or players for whom Vivaldi wrote the C minor recorder concerto (RV 441), the trio sonata in A minor for recorder, bassoon, and continuo (RV 86), and the three "flautino" concertos (RV 443-445) deserve recognition as the greatest virtuosos of the Baroque era.

The present recording begins with one of the three concertos that Vivaldi designated for the "flautino," which means, literally, "small recorder." Although the keys (C major, C major, and A minor), highest notes, tessitura, and degree of difficulty all suggest the sopranino recorder, in a few ritornellos Vivaldi wrote notes that go slightly outside the range of the instrument. Because in one of these concertos he also wrote a few notes for the violin that go outside its range, it is likely that he was merely careless and did have the sopranino recorder in mind for the solo part. Other possible solo instruments that have been suggested by modern scholars-the piccolo transverse flute and a small flageolet-seem far less plausible.

Vivaldi's flautino concerto in C major, RV 444, is a virtuoso work from beginning to end. The ritornello sections of the fast movements are cut to a minimum, allowing the solo instrument full scope in the relatively extended solo sections for rapid scales, arpeggios, trills, triplets, and leaps comparable to those in the composer's violin concertos.

The slow movement is in A minor. Between short opening and closing phrases in which the upper four parts are in unison, the soloist is given an elaborately ornamented melody line containing some of the same devices as the fast movements (trills, rapid scales, and triplets) over pizzicato sixteenth-notes in the strings.

II. The two German composers represented on this recording, Johann Christoph Graupner (1683-1760) and Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) share the distinction of having been the second and first choices, respectively, for the St. Thomas cantorate in Leipzig in 1722. When they both turned down the position, it went to none other than Johann Sebastian Bach. The manuscripts of both the Graupner and Telemann recorder concertos survive in the library of the former Hesse court in Darmstadt. The Telemann is frequently played and available in a number of modern editions, but, although an edition of the Graupner was published as long ago as 1939, this significant work in the recorder repertory has been strangely neglected by modern performers, and to our knowledge this is its first recording. Curiously, the first edition was incomplete: twenty-seven measures are missing from the last movement. A complete edition has now been edited by Christa Sokol and published by Carus (1986). The composer worked for most of his life at the Darmstadt court, so it is probable that this concerto was written for its orchestra. Sokol remarks, however, that the manuscript score dates from 1735-37, so that it is unlikely to have been written for the flute, recorder, and oboe virtuoso Johann Michael Böhm (fl. 1685-1753), who left Darmstadt for Ludwigsburg in 1729. The most likely dedicatees are the court's two oboists, J. Corseneck and J. F Stolz.

The first movement is in an abbreviated ritornello form. The opening fifteen-measure ritornello is never presented again in full. Rather, when the new keys (dominant, then submediant) have been established by the soloist, the orchestra plays only the head motive: the final ritornello combines some of the motives of the first ritornello with a new closing theme- For most of the movement, then, the soloist holds sway, opening with a striking held high C, then playing a variety of passagework, including a section of triplets that forms an effective contrast to the basic duple rhythms. From time to time, in the Vivaldian manner, the lower instruments drop out of the texture, leaving the violins to accompany the recorder.

The slow movement features the soloist throughout over pizzicato strings. The galant melody, frequently punctuated by short rests, contains some striking arpeggio figures. It is ornamented so heavily and with such melodic variety that Mr. Reiss has declined to add any further embellishment.

The final movement is a five-voice fugue, in which the recorder enters as the fifth voice in the exposition, In the first episode, the recorder spins out some of the countermelodies from the exposition over violin accompaniment. After a re-exposition in the supertonic, the second episode again features the recorder against melodic fragments in the violins. The final re-exposition is in four voices only, the recorder playing in unison with the first violin.

III. In England, the recorder concerto--particularly for the small recorder known as the "sixth flute" (soprano in D)--achieved an extraordinary vogue, featuring prominently in public concerts and in the mini-concerts given in the intermission of plays at the theatres for about twenty-five years. The first known performance (1709) of a recorder concerto was given by John Baston (whose own concertos were later published by Walsh); the first known performance (1715) of a concerto for a small recorder, by the French expatriate virtuoso James Paisible. Then concertos were taken up by virtually all professional recorder players whose performances were advertised: Lewis Granom, John Jones, Jean Christian Kytch, Jacob Price, Giovanni Sammartini, and Johann Christian Schickhardt.

William Babell (ca. 1690-1723) was a violinist and harpsichordist in the theatre and opera orchestras as well as a church organist. His posthumous recorder concertos, Opus 3 (ca. 1726), four for one recorder, two for two recorders, seem to have been the first ever published for the instrument. The concertos are scored for an orchestra of violins and cellos (no violas), including a solo violin part, suggesting that they were written for the recorder player John Baston and his brother Thomas, a violinist. The title page proclaims that the concertos were "performed at the theatre with great applause."

In four of these concertos, including the one recorder here, Babell calls for the "sixth flute." Because this size of recorder is rare today, we have transposed the concerto down a step from E minor to D minor for performance on the "fifth flute," or standard soprano recorder.

Most of Babell's concertos are fully Vivaldian in conception and design. In No. 3, however, the predominant influence is that of Georg Frederic Handel, whose musical style Babell would have absorbed while playing in the London opera orchestra. In the first movement, the orchestra begins with a statement containing two different contrapuntal ideas. The recorder then picks up and spins out each idea in turn. After the return of a shortened version of the opening idea, the movement ends with some long notes which invite elaboration by the soloist.

The binary second movement features three main melodic ideas, introduced bv the orchestra in the first section. The recorder plays all the ideas intact several times during the movement, interspersing them with passagework based partly on the second idea. The binary third movement, in F major, has the melodic style of a Handel sonata over an accompaniment of unison violins in the Vivaldian manner.

The last movement, also binary, is in triple meter, like a fast minuet or passepied. There are two main thematic ideas, the first a six-measure phrase for soloist and orchestra, the second an expanded phrase in which the recorder is accompanied by unison violins. In the second section, both ideas are repeated several times and interspersed with passagework.

IV. Telemann’s C major was probably written for Johann Michael Böhm, who was concertmaster of the Darmstadt orchestra from 1711 to 1729. While Telemann worked in Frankfurt am Main (1712-1721), as city director of music and Kapellmeister at the Barfusserkirche, he often asked Böhm and other members of the Darmstadt orchestra to play for him there.

Telemann's concerto shows strong influence of the Italian concerto only in the second movement. To point out the most obvious feature, the work is in four movements, whereas Vivaldi used almost exclusively three. The tessitura of Telemann's solo is high (frequently up to f’’’ and g’’’), allowing the recorder to stand out from the strings.

The lyrical first movement opens with an orchestral statement containing three different melodic fragments in a galant style, ending with sighing triplets over a dominant pedal
point. For the remainder of the movement, the recorder and orchestra enter into a dialog, sometimes repeating the opening material, sometimes spinning out one of the fragments in a highly ornamental style.

The second movement is in ritornello form. The opening ritornello has three motives, of which only the head motive is brought back in the second, third, and fourth ritornellos; the final ritornello brings back the other two motives. The characteristic syncopated rhythm of the head motive (short-long-short) permeates the soloist's passagework along with the customary scales and arpeggios.

The ravishing Andante in A minor is reminiscent of the Air à l'italien from Telemann's well-known Suite for recorder and orchestra in the same key. The witty and effective written-out ornamentation includes syncopated figures and some surprising chromaticism. The few unadorned passages seem to invite the soloist to continue the ornamentation in the same style.

The binary finale, marked Tempo di Minuet, is reallv a polacca, with plentv of the unusual rhythmic stresses and repeated notes whose “barbaric beauty” Telemann admired in the Polish folk music he heard in the early years of the century

V. The six flute concertos, Opus 10, by Antonio Vivaldi (I 678-174 1) were published in Amsterdam by Le Cène around 1728. They have often been claimed as the first flute concertos ever published, although Robert Woodcock’s, which came out in London a year earlier, seem to deserve that distinction. In any case, it is evident that Vivaldi and/or Le Cène wanted to capitalize on the growing interest in both the flute and the solo concerto genre all over Europe.

Only the fourth of these six concertos seems to have been written for publication, the other five being reworkings of counterparts that survive in Vivaldi's manuscripts. One is a solo recorder concerto (No. 5 in F major). The remaining four are chamber concertos: that is, concertos for a chamber ensemble without orchestra. The instruments take turns playing the solo sections (sometimes one instrument plays all these sections), while all the instruments take part in the ritornellos. Vivaldi converted these chamber concertos for publication as solo concertos by giving all the parts except the top one to violins or violoncello. According to modem Vivaldi scholarship, the top parts of three of the chamber concertos were written for the flute, one of them for the recorder. Yet the keys, range, and tessitura of all four top parts suggest that they were originally written for the recorder-

The concerto on the present recording, No. 3 in D major, subtitled "Il Gardellino" (the goldfinch), is a good case in point. Its chamber concerto version (RV 90) survives in a copy with autograph inscriptions and another copy from Vivaldi’s circle. On the first copy, the instruments are marked, in Vivaldi's hand, "flauto o viol[in]o p[ri]mo," "hautbois o viol[in]o [secondo]," "viol[in]o 3zo," "violoncello o fagotto," and "basso cont[inuo] ,- or, in plain English, alto recorder or first violin, oboe or second violin, third violin, cello or bassoon, and basso continuo. In the second copy the top part is marked, not in Vivaidi's hand, "flauto trav[erso]" (i.e., flute) for the first movement, but "flauto" (i.e., alto recorder) for the second movement. Although D major is the home key of the flute, Vivaldi called for the recorder in three other chamber concertos in that key (RV 92, 94, and 95). Moreover, the recorder, not the flute, was traditionally associated with birdsong- Taken together, this evidence points to the alto recorder rather than the flute as having been Vivaldi's original choice for the top part in the chamber concerto version of “Il Gardellino.” Moreover, the range of the solo part (f #’= e’’’) in the Opus 10 version fits the alto recorder exactly. For these reasons, we think it appropriate for the recorder to take the solo part in that version of the concerto, as Mr. Reiss has done for the present recording.

“Il Gardellino" is one of the best known of all Vivaldi’s programmatic concertos. The soloist imitates the song of the goldfinch throughout the first and third movements with an astonishing variety of devices: repeated notes, rapid scales, trills, arpeggios, and leaps. A particularly striking touch in the first movement is the interruption of the first ritornello by a cadenza for the soloist, marked bv A piacimento (at will--or, to be performed freely). The second movement, in binary form, is a pastoral Siciliana, marked Cantabile, which intermixes lilting dotted figures and leaps. The finale betrays its origin as a chamber concerto, in that there is more interplay between the soloist and violins, notably at the opening of the first solo section, where the soloist and first violin play in thirds. In a neat stroke of rounding, the third solo section introduces material reminiscent of the first movement.

VI. In France, the flute had already eclipsed the recorder among professional musicians by around 1700, and by the time that solo concertos began to be written in that country twenty or thirty years later, the recorder had ceased to be even a popular amateur instrument. It comes as no surprise to discover that French composers do not seem to have written any recorder concertos. Scott Reiss has therefore chosen the next best thing: a concerto that its publisher said could be played on the recorder. The Opus 17 of the Parisian flutist Jacques-Christophe Naudot (ca. 1690-1762) is a collection of concertos for vielle (hurdy gurdy), musette (bagpipe), flute, recorder, or oboe with two violins and basso continuo. The common French practice of listing several possible instruments on the title page was presumably designed to increase the publisher's market. The keys, melodic range, and harmonic scope of such works show that they were primarily intended for the musette or vielle, both of which possessed drones and could not, therefore, move far from the home key These "pastoral" instruments were all the rage at Versailles, where courtiers dressed up as shepherds and shepherdesses and acted out bucolic scenes- The dedication of Naudot's collection to the vielle virtuoso Danguy l'ainé implies that his instrument was the one the composer really had in mind. Nevertheless, the concerto is well-suited to the recorder--another instrument that Baroque composers used to represent the pastoral element.

In this concerto Naudot achieves an unusual amalgam of Italian concerto form and French pastoral charm. The first movement is in a modified ritornello form in which the fourth ritornello is identical to the first but the second and third ritornellos are little more than statements of the head motive. The pastoral atmosphere is sustained by frequent pedal points over which the recorder often plays in thirds with the first violin- The second movement is framed by identical orchestral statements. In between, the soloist plays long-breathed melodies marked by trills and dotted figures, again sometimes in thirds with the first violin, culminating in a written-out cadenza over a dominant pedal point- The final movement is in a Vivaldian ritornello form with only three ritornellos, the first and third
of which are identical. The first solo section is fairly brief and melodically foursquare,
The lengthier second solo section is varied in texture, with one-measure exchanges between the soloist and orchestra, a new triplet passage for the orchestra, and new passagework for the soloist, ending with a cadenza for soloist and first violin in thirds over a dominant pedal point.

Notes by David Lasocki



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