Italian Treasures - A Violin Extravaganza
Concerti for Two & Four Violins
Jörg-Michael Schwarz, Karen Marie Marmer,
Heidi Powell, Christoph Timpe, solo violins
Peter Bucknell, viola
John Moran, violoncello; Nicholas Pap, double bass
Dongsok Shin, harpsichord
Concerto op. 3, no. 8 in a minor RV 522 (1711), L’Estro Armonico, Antonio Vivaldi, 1678-1741
Concerto for 4 violins in a minor Giuseppe Torelli, 1658-1709
Concerto op. 3, no. 11 in d minor RV 565 (1711) Antonio Vivaldi
Concerto op. 7, no. 11 in a minor (1710) Giuseppe Valentini 1680-1759
Concerto op. 4, no.12 in g minor (1726) Giovanni Mossi, ca.1700
Sinfonia in g minor Tomaso Albinoni 1671-1751
Notes on the Program
In an age when it is easy to go see orchestras with thirty to forty violins, one might legitimately wonder what is extravagant about a program of concertos for two, three, and four violins. Early eighteenth-century norms for violin music had been defined by the composer Arcangelo Corelli’s output: the trio sonata, the solo sonata, and the concerto grosso. The term "extravaganza" comes from Latin roots meaning "to wander beyond". Vivaldi used an Italian form of this word as the title for his op. 4, La Stravaganza. The concertos on this program are all by composers who owed very much to the models of Corelli. Nevertheless they all sought to expand the bounds and in a real sense can be seen as straying beyond the classical order of Corelli’s chosen forms.
Antonio Vivaldi’s L’Estro Armonico, op. 3, probably the most influential work of music of the first half of the eighteenth century, was published first not in Italy, but in Amsterdam by Estienne Roger. This choice was both Vivaldi’s and Roger’s. It was not only Roger’s recognition of Italy as the land of the violin and the insatiable appetite of northern Europeans for Italian violin music and Italian violin virtuosos. It was also a reflection of the Dutch publisher’s advanced marketing and distribution as well as the superior quality of his printing, produced by individually engraving each new work. At this time Venetian publishers were still using a kind of difficult-to-read movable type for music. In the preface to L’Estro Armonico Vivaldi himself praised "the celebrated hand of Monsieur Roger" while denigrating the poor quality of contemporaneous Italian printing. The twelve concertos of this opus are equally divided into pieces for one, two, and four violins.
It is astonishing that such an ambitious work—the parts in Roger’s edition run to nearly two hundred pages—by a then largely unknown composer should have been published so far from his home by a publisher of such renown. Vivaldi’s previous two opus numbers containing solo sonatas and trio sonatas for violins and continuo, published in Venice by Giuseppe Sala, had received little attention outside Italy. However, Roger was a shrewd businessman and Vivaldi was vain—the title "L’Estro Armonico" can be translated as "musical genius" or "imagination"—and the music is extremely inventive, being the first broadly disseminated music to exploit the ritornello principle of the baroque concerto form, which Vivaldi is widely credited with having invented. According to one theory it was Roger, impatient for the very deliberate Corelli to produce a new collection of works, who actually commissioned Vivaldi to write his op. 3.
Among Vivaldi’s innovations was dispensing with the rigid hierarchy of Corelli’s concerti grossi, where two solo violins and a solo cello formed the elite concertino group while the rest of the string players were relegated to the ripieno group, a word which literally means "filler". Vivaldi oversaw the fluid reconstitution of various instrumental parts into different combinations from one concerto to the next. Even within concertos he played with the instrumental groupings and the roles of the various parts in a way that would have been foreign to Corelli. Vivaldi hit upon some ideas which proved equally fertile to many other composers. Bach, for one, was taken with L’EstroArmonico and arranged several of its concertos including no. 8 & 11 for organ, and no. 10 for four violins, which became Bach’s concerto for four harpsichords.
Tomaso Albinoni, the son of a Venetian stationer, inherited a comfortable living, but by 1705 at the latest he had relinquished the right to manufacture and sell playing cards proudly bearing his name on the ace of spades. Instead he chose to pursue his youthful passion for the violin, eventually becoming alongside Vivaldi one of the best Venetian composers of his generation. The g minor Sinfonia, perhaps the most dramatic of the composer’s larger instrumental works, surprisingly remains unpublished. It was probably written about 1715 and survives in a manuscript copy in Dresden, a copy probably made in the 1720s from a now lost original autograph brought back from Italy half a decade earlier by the great German violinist Johann Georg Pisendel, who was responsible for bringing much Italian music to the attention of German musicians, including J. S. Bach.
Giuseppe Torelli came to Bologna from his native Verona in the early 1680s. He was admitted to the Accademia Filarmonica in 1684 as a suonatore di violino or violinist and was soon performing as a member of the capella at the Church of San Petronio, where he was officially engaged to play the viola and later the tenor viol. However, he was frequently absent from this post due to performances as violinist in Parma and Modena. When the orchestra of San Petronio was disbanded for financial reasons in 1696 he went to Ansbach and Berlin, eventually ending up in Vienna, until finally he could not bear Vienna and returned to Bologna in 1701. The manuscript for Torelli’s concerto for four violins survives in the collection of the Basilica Church of San Petronio, in whose generous acoustics the piece was surely intended to be performed.
Giovanni Mossi and Giuseppe Valentini, both represented on this program by concertos for four violins, were students of Corelli in Rome. Though Corelli never wrote a concerto for four solo violins, students of his, including Pietro Antonio Locatelli in addition to Mossi and Valentini, wrote them, both as vehicles for display of violinistic virtuosity and as demonstrations of compositional ability. It is interesting to note that Corelli students who wrote concertos for four violins, unlike Vivaldi, each wrote only one work for the genre, and that in the present case each included a prominent part for a solo cello.
Mossi was a native Roman, closely associated with his master Corelli, who rarely strayed far from the Eternal City. As a violinist his name was hardly known outside Rome, but his music for violins, all of it published in Amsterdam, was widely appreciated. The scope of his concerto for four violins exceeds any of his other compositions. Valentini, on the other hand, was of Florentine birth and may have passed the last decade of his life in Paris. He had a propensity for adventurous writing and the term "extravagant" is almost an understatement when applied to his large-scale, seven-movement concerto for four violins, published in Bologna.
Jörg-Michael Schwarz & Karen Marie Marmer, directors
Hailed by the New York Times as "Sophisticated and Beguiling" and praised by the Los Angeles Times for their "astonishingly vital music-making", REBEL (pronounced "Re-bel") has earned an impressive international reputation, enchanting diverse audiences by their unique style and their virtuosic, highly expressive and provocative approach to the Baroque and Classical repertoire.
The core formation of two violins, recorder/traverso, cello/viola da gamba and harpsichord/organ expands with additional strings, winds, theorbo and vocalists, performing on period instruments. REBEL is currently in residence at historic Trinity Church in New York City, collaborating with Trinity Choir in works ranging from the cantatas of Bach to the major oratories of, Handel, Bach, Mozart and Haydn.
Named after the innovative French Baroque composer Jean-Féry Rebel (1666-1747), REBEL was formed in The Netherlands in l99l. In the Fifth International Competition for Ensembles in Early Music, Utrecht 1991 ( now the van Wassenaer Competition) REBEL was awarded first prize. Since then the ensemble has performed at European venues such as the Holland Festival Oude Muziek, Tage Alter Musik Berlin, the Resonanzen Festival (Vienna), La Chapelle Royale (Versailles), Internationale Festtage für Alte Musik Stuttgart, and the Händel Festspiele (Halle an der Saale, Germany), amongst others.
REBEL has appeared to critical acclaim at distinguished American venues such as the DaCamera Society (Los Angeles), the Seattle Early Music Guild, Houston Early Music, the Concert Society at Maryland, the San Diego Early Music Society, the Howard Mayer Brown International Concert Series (Chicago), the Shrine to Music Museum (South Dakota), the Boston and Berkeley Early Music Festivals and Music Before l800 in New York City. REBEL has collaborated with renowned vocalists Max von Egmond, Peter Kooy, Barbara Schlick and Suzie LeBlanc, and has recorded for all the major European national radio networks as well as the BBC. They have been featured on NPR’s "Performance Today", "WNYC Live", WQXR’s "The Jewel Box" and MPR’s "St. Paul Sunday". In 1999 REBEL became the first and only period instrument ensemble to be awarded an artists’ residency at National Public Radio.
REBEL has recorded for Deutsche Harmonia Mundi and more recently, Dorian Recordings ("Rossi and his Circle"; "Concerti di Napoli"). Their upcoming disc, "Telemann Alla Polacca" will be released on Dorian in November 200l. In April 2002 their disc, "Giuseppe Sammartini: Sonate e Concerti" in collaboration with Ensemble Caprice de Montréal, will be released on ATMA .
The REBEL Baroque Orchestra is engaged by Hänssler-Verlag ,Stuttgart to record the complete sacred choral works with Trinity Choir.
JÖRG-MICHAEL SCHWARZ, a prize winner in several international violin competitions, has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the Americas, Asia, Australia & Europe. He studied violin with Dorothy DeLay and Jens Ellerman at the Juilliard School, and with Max Rostal and Berta Volmer in Cologne, Germany. As soloist he has appeared with the Scottish Chamber Symphony under Yehudi Menuhin, the Berne Symphony Orchestra, the New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra and the Heilbronn Symphony Orchestra, amongst others. Co-founder of the Ravel Quartet Köln (1978-81) and the Monadnock Quartet (1984-88), he was concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra (1984-85) and the New Hampshire Symphony Orchestra (1984-88). He has performed with Marie Leonhardt, Jaap Schroeder, Albert Fuller, Reinhard Goebel, the English Baroque Soloists, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Anima Eterna, the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra and Musica Antiqua Köln. A co-founder of the award-winning baroque ensemble REBEL, with whom he performs extensively, he has also served as concertmaster of the Barockorchester Stuttgart (1992-96), the Grande Bande (New York), American Bach Soloists, the Connecticut Early Music Festival Orchestra (1990-92), the Portland Baroque Orchestra and the New York Collegium.
He has played under the batons of Gustav Leonhardt, Frans Brüggen, Ton Koopman, Philippe Herreweghe, John Eliot Gardiner, Roger Norrington and Fabio Biondi. Mr. Schwarz has been a featured performer at early music festivals throughout the world, including those in Boston, Berkeley, Utrecht, Herne, Stuttgart, Bruges, Vienna and Ambronay (France). His recording of the Vivaldi Four Seasons was released in 1992 on Chesky Records; he can also be heard on Channel Classics, Erato, Smithsonian Press, PGM, Koch International, Vox Classics and Arabesque. With the baroque ensemble REBEL he records for ATMA, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi and Dorian Recordings.
KAREN MARIE MARMER studied violin at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College with Israel Chorberg and Masao Kawasaki, and at the Yale School of Music with Syoko Aki. Her baroque violin studies were with Jaap Schroeder at Yale, Marilyn MacDonald at the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin and with Lucy van Dael at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.
Her international career has included collaborations with Capriccio Stravagante (Paris), the Nederlandse Bach Vereniging (The Netherlands), Ensemble Baroque de Mateus (Portugal), the Smithsonian Chamber Orchestra (Washington,D.C.), the Helicon Ensemble, the American Bach Soloists, Four Nations, the New York Collegium and the Stuttgart Baroque Orchestra, of which she served as co-concertmaster from 1991-96. She has performed under the batons of Ton Koopman, Frans Brüggen, William Christie, Philippe Herreweghe, Reinhard Goebel, Fabio Biondi and Gustav Leonhardt, and has concertized throughout Europe with Marie Leonhardt. A co-founder of the internationally acclaimed ensemble REBEL, Ms.Marmer concertizes extensively in Europe and North America, and has recorded for most major European radio stations as well as National Public Radio in the U.S. She has been heard at Early Music Festivals in Boston, Berkeley, Utrecht, Bruges, Herne, Stuttgart, Vienna and Ambronay (France). Her recording credits include Vox Classics, PGM, Chesky, Koch International, ATMA, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi and Dorian.
HEIDI POWELL received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the Indiana University School of Music as a student of Stanley Ritchie and Paul Biss. In 2001 she completed the Masters Degree in Historical Performance at the Oberlin Conservatory, studying baroque violin with Marilyn McDonald and viola with Peter Slowik. She was a finalist in the Concorso Violinistico Internazionale Antonio Vivaldi in Turino, Italy and second prize winner in the American Bach Soloists' International Baroque Violin Competition at the Berkeley Early Music Festival 2000, where she was hailed by the New York Times as "supremely confident and powerful". Ms.Powell performs regularly with the Smithsonian Chamber Players, the New York Collegium, Santa Fe Pro Musica, Ensemble Musical Offering, the Apollo Ensemble, Handel & Haydn Society and Apollo's Fire. She has performed at Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.), Severance Hall, Symphony Hall, the Smithsonian Institution, Town Hall and Carnegie Hall (with Jaime Laredo). Ms.Powell has taught violin and chamber music at the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival and at the Oberlin Conservatory . She can be heard on the Telarc label.
CHRISTOPH TIMPE was born in Freiburg, Germany and received his first violin lessons at the age of six. After initially pursuing a career in science, he devoted himself exclusively to the violin. He received his baroque violin training and an introduction to historical performance practice in London and Cologne. Since 1979 he has been living in Rome, where in 1995 he founded the chamber ensemble Accademia per Musica . His main interest lies in Italian and German violin music around 1700. On the basis of his repertoire research, he has recently contributed to musicological publications.
Mr.Timpe has been in demand as a guest artist with various baroque ensembles, such as Concerto Köln, Musica ad Rhenum and Musica Antiqua Köln and has concertized all over Europe. His recordings with virtuosic violin music (Vol.I & II) by Angelo Ragazzi and other Neapolitan composers were released on the Capriccio Label.
Australian born violist, PETER BUCKNELL maintains an international career as soloist and chamber musician. He has been soloist with Los Angeles Musica Viva and Les Concerts du Monde, and has held the principal viola position with the Los Angeles Baroque Orchestra. Before moving to Germany, he received the University of Southern California’s Award for Early Music and the 1994 Queen Elisabeth II Silver Jubilee Grant. In Europe he performed with distinguished ensembles such as Musica Antiqua Köln, Concerto Köln, Camerata Freiburg, the Bach Solisten Akademie and with members of the Orchestra of the 18th Century. Mr.Bucknell has been guest assistant principal with the Munich Chamber Orchestra and toured with the Stradivari Sextet, performing on Stradivari’s first viola. He also performed as soloist at festivals in Greece, Italy, France and Sweden.
Since returning to the United States, Mr.Bucknell has recorded and performed on period instruments with Concert Royal (New York), The Violins of Lafayette (Washington D.C.), the Four Nations Ensemble, the Philadelphia Classical Symphony, the Boston Bach Ensemble and Musica Angelica.
JOHN MORAN, a native of the Washington, D.C. area, appears regularly as soloist and chamber musician on baroque and classical cello and viola da gamba on both sides of the Atlantic. He received his professional training at the Oberlin Conservatory and the Schola Cantorum (Basel, Switzerland).
Alongside REBEL he is a member of the Violins of Lafayette, Capriole, Mensa Sonora, Trio Riot and the Smithsonian Chamber Players. He has also appeared with Les Musiciens du Louvre,The Consort of Musicke, English Baroque Soloists, Folger Consort, the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra and the New York Collegium. He is on the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Recording credits include Dorian Recordings, Virgin Classics, Deutsche
Grammophon,ERATO, DeutscheHarmoniaMundi and MusicaOscura. Mr.Moran is a contributor to the revised New Grove Dictionary of Music (2001) and is writing a historical monograph on the cello for Yale University Press. He and his wife, violinist Risa Browder, have two young sons.
American born NICHOLAS PAP resides in Amsterdam, where he directs and conducts the Ateliers "Gaben Amors", a workplace for musical and theatrical arts of the Baroque, Classical & Romantic periods. Since completing his studies in 17th & 18th century performance practice at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague, Mr.Pap has participated as double bass player in more than 100 recording projects and has toured Europe, North America and Asia with orchestras such as The Leonhardt Consort, La Petite Bande and L’Orchestre des Champs-Élysées. With the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra under the direction of Ton Koopman, he has toured worldwide and recorded the complete symphonies of W.A.Mozart on HDTV Laser disc for Sony Classics and has begun a 10-year project recording the complete cantatas of J.S.Bach for ERATO -France.
DONGSOK SHIN was born in Boston and took piano lessons with his mother from the age of four. He continued his studies with with Nadia Reisenberg at the Mannes College of Music, but since the early 1980’s has specialized exclusively on early keyboard instruments. Much in demand as a soloist and continuo player, he has appeared with a.o. ARTEK, Concert Royal, The Masterwork Chorus & Orchestra, Mark Morris Dance Company, the New York Philharmonic, New York’s Grande Bande, the Orchestra of St.Luke’s, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and Philharmonia Virtuosi. He has toured throughout North America and Europe, and has recorded for Lyrichord, Newport Classic, Helicon and Dorian Recordings. Mr.Shin was a founding member of the Mannes Camerata receiving international critical acclaim as music director for their productions of early baroque operas, and served as director of the Mannes College of Music Historical Performance Program. He was co-director of NYS Baroque in Ithaca, NY, and is currently a member of Louis Louis, the Gotham City Baroque Orchestra and REBEL. In his spare time he tunes and maintains harpsichords in the New York area, is well known as a recording engineer, producer and editor of numerous early music recordings, and is the proud father of three children (and three cats).
This concert is made possible in part by a grant from the City of Houston and Harris County through the Cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County