Being lent, I thought I would give up blogging. Or not.
As I am playing a piccolo concerto for the baroque master class two Mondays from now, I thought it would behoove me to blog a bit on Vivaldi piccolo concerti. Interestingly from the selections I have heard so far, it appears that they are all the same, except written in a different key. Vivaldi was a tool.
This is one of my favorite piccolo concerto, (I guess they are all my favorite because they suspiciously all sound the same). It is an extremely virtuosic piece, forcing the player to have excellent technique to achieve the proper pace and articulation. Like most composers of the time, Vivaldi rarely scribed the articulation for the performer, relying on the soloists knowledge of baroque articulation styles. Thus, recordings of the same piece can differ greatly depending on the performers interpretation.
Vivaldi saturates the fast movements in ritornello form, alternating between string ensemble and piccolo. Although the strings hint to the forthcoming piccolo melody ending their sections on authentic cadences, the piccolo often plays something completely opposite. Vivaldi plays with arpeggiating chords, sequences, and sections "a piacere," with the ensemble creating a soft accompaniment to the piccolo.
My favorite movement is the Largo. It's drastically different from the two similar movements that frame it. It allows the piccolo a rare chance to explore its sound slowly and beautifully. One can really hear the arpaggiatoras, appreciate the baroque ornamentations, and suspensions in this slow movement. The Ti-Do played by the piccolo helps accentuate the perfect authentic cadences that mark the end of periods.
Harmonically, and melodically, this concerto is very simple. There is nothing very daring, or terribly chromatic to grab your excitement. The beauty of this piece lies in it's "knock you off your ass," (Spiegelberg, 2005) virtuosity of the first and last movements, and the second Largo shows off the piccolos softer, less obnoxious, side. Yes, there is such a thing.
I really enjoy Vivaldi. Even though some of his pieces tend to be composed from similar molds, his melodies and distinct sound sticks with you, making these pieces very fun to play.