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ClassicsOnline Home » MANFREDINI: Concerti Grossi Op. 3, Nos. 1-12
Concerti grossi, for
two violins and basso continuo, Op. 3
Francesco Manfredini was born in Pistoia in 1684, the son of a
trombonist. He studied in Bologna, taking violin lessons from Giuseppe Torelli,
a leading figure in the development of the concerto grosso, with its
small group of solo instruments, and of the solo concerto. Like Torelli,
Manfredini also studied composition with Giacomo Antonio Perti, maestro di
cappella at the Basilica of San Petronio from 1696, the year in which the
orchestra of San Petronio was, for the moment, dissolved.
Before 1700 Manfredini was in Ferrara, serving as a violinist at the
Church of San Spirito, but in 1704 he returned to Bologna, employed again in
the orchestra of San Petronio then re-established. He also became a member of
the Accademia Filarmonica and in the same year published a set of twelve
chamber sonatas under the title Concertini per camera, Op. 1. In
1709 he published in Bologna a further set of instrumental compositions, twelve
Sinfonie da chiesa, Op. 2, in fact church sonatas that complement
the earlier chamber sonatas. From 1711 it seems that Manfredini was in Monaco,
in the service of Prince Antoine I, who had come to the throne of the
principality in 1701 and had been a pupil of Lully, whose conductor's stick he
had inherited. Manfredini is mentioned in Monaco court records in 1712 and the Concerti,
Op. 3, published in Bologna in 1718, are dedicated to the Prince,
who also had in his library copies of Manfredini's Sinfonie, Op. 2. The
exact length of his stay in Monaco and the nature of his connection with the
court is uncertain. The Prince, however, served as godfather to Manfredini's
son Antonio Francesco and four other children were seemingly born to the
composer in Monaco. By 1727, however, he was again in Pistoia, as maestro di
cappella at the Cathedral, a position he retained until his death in 1762.
His son Vincenzo, later maestro di cappella of the Italian opera in St
Petersburg, was born in Pistoia in 1737 and another son, Giuseppe, had a career
as a castrato singer.
Concerto No. 1 of the Opus 3 set has a first movement that allows dynamic
contrast without specific use of the concertino solo group. The 12/8
second movement has a concluding echo effect, while the final duple-metre Allegro
provides a rhythmic contrast.
The first movement of Concerto No. 2 also ends with a slow
section, before its repetition, and there is a short solo ending to the second
movement. The concerto ends with a 3/8 Allegro, a contrast to the
preceding common-time movements.
Triple metre marks the second, slow movement of Concerto No. 3,
framed by faster outer movements, the first making much use of a descending
arpeggio figure and a third marked Presto, like the even more energetic
Concerto No. 4 is also in four movements, the first an Allegro marked
by dotted rhythms and the second a thirteen-bar Adagio. The following
12/8 Presto makes a contrast, with its gigue rhythm, to the final Allegro.
There is a brief slow section to start Concerto No. 5, followed
by a 12/8 Allegro in which a solo violin makes its first appearance,
accompanied by basso continuo, after the entry in imitation of first and
second violins. The Andante e piano sempre allows a solo violin rapid broken
triad patterns over a repeated accompaniment rhythm. The solo violin again has
an important part to play in the final Allegro.
There is a similar procedure in Concerto No. 6, with relatively
extended passages that give prominence to a solo violin. Three Adagio bars
are followed by a Presto, a solo violin taking pride of place
throughout, with its rapid arpeggios. The final triple-metre movement includes
solo arpeggio passages, an element of display.
The first movement of Concerto No. 7 again allows the solo
violin a chance for technical virtuosity. A common-time Adagio, with its
own solo passages, is succeeded by a 3/8 Presto.
There is a seven-bar slow introduction to Concerto No. 8,
followed by au Allegro. An Adagio that allows antiphonal response
between first and second violins leads to a 1218 Presto, with slow
closing bars preceding a triple-metre second Presto.
Two solo violins open Concerto No. 9 with an Adagio, followed
by a Presto shared between solo instruments and the whole ensemble. An A
major Largo precedes an Allegro that makes continued antiphonal
use of the two solo violins.
Concerto No. 10 starts with a slow movement that makes immediate contrast
between the solo instruments and the full ensemble. There are imitative entries
between first and second violins in the energetic Allegro, followed by a
similar procedure between the solo instruments. The ensuing Largo provides
a moment of respite before the final 3/8 Presto.
A familiar arpeggio figuration marks the opening ritornello of Concerto
No. 11, continued in the antiphonal passage that follows for the two
solo violins of the concertino group. More technically demanding writing
for the solo instruments follows, in turn. The Adagio modulates from E
flat major to a major, the dominant chord that serves to introduce a final 12/8
Allegro in the original key of C minor, initiated by the two solo
violins, in imitation one of the other.
The set ends with a Christmas Concerto, on a pattern familiar
from Torelli and well known from the use Corelli made of the form, finally
published in 1713. The concerto opens with a Pastorale, an evocation, by
means of the pastoral Siciliano dance, of the shepherds at the birth of
Christ. There is a Largo that modulates from A minor and a final Allegro
that restores the original key of C major in lively imitation between the
solo instruments, with a final passage that again suggests the pastoral in its
use of a sustained pedal-note, a bagpipe drone.
The Capella Istropolitana was founded in 1983 by members of the Slovak
Philharmonic Orchestra, at first as a chamber orchestra and then as an
orchestra large enough to tackle the standard classical repertoire. Based in Bratislava,
its name drawn from the ancient name still preserved in the Academia
Istropolitana, the orchestra has made numerous recordings and undertakes
frequent tours throughout Europe.
The Czech conductor and composer Jaroslav Krček was born in southern Bohemia in 1939 and
studied composition and conducting at the Prague Conservatory. In 1962 he moved
to Pilsen as a conductor and radio producer and in 1967 returned to Prague to
work as a recording supervisor for Supraphon. In the capital he founded the
ensemble and in 1975 the chamber orchestra Musica Bohemica. In the Czech
Republic he is well known for his arrangements of Bohemian folk music, while
his electro-acoustic opera Raab was awarded first prize at the
International Composers' Competition in Geneva. He is the artistic leader of
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MANFREDINI: Concerti Grossi Op. 3, Nos. 1-12