Trio Sonata in B Flat Major, Op. 5 No.5,RV 76 Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741)
Trio Sonata in B Minor, Op. 1 No.11, RV79 Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741)
Trio Sonata in E Flat Major, Op. 8 No.6Giuseppe Tartini (1692 - 1770)
Trio Sonata in D Minor (La follia), Op. 1Antonio Vivaldi No.12, RV 63 (1678 - 1741)
The Trio Sonata, in its variousmanifestations, came to be the most popular instrumental form at the close ofthe seventeenth century and in the first half of the following century, onlysuperseded, in course of time, by the classical string quartet. It representedan ideal economy of means, in that it needed minimally only three or, moreusually, four performers, while capable of expansion into a full concertogrosso by the addition of ripieno players to reinforce the louder sections. Asit developed the Baroque trio sonata came to encompass two generallydistinguishable categories of work, the Sonata da chiesa or ChurchSonata, with its alternation of slow and fast movements, the latter generallyfugal in character, and the Sonata da camera, a suite of dance movements.
Most commonly the trio sonata demandedthe services of four players. Two melody instruments, normally violins,although publishers allowed some latitude in the matter, howeverunrealistically, were supplemented by a bass melody instrument and a chordalinstrument in the form of a harpsichord, organ or lute. It was, however, alwayspossible to play trio sonatas without chordal filling from the keyboard or itsequivalent. Published music sometimes described the second violin part asoptional, although such an omission would normally be impossible. Generallytrio sonatas would be issued with only three part-books, the third to be sharedby keyboard-player and player of the viola da gamba, cello or violone. Intexture they might differ between sonatas in which each melody instrument helda contrapuntal line and sonatas in which the lowest instrument simply provideda harmonic basis for melodic interchange between the violins, or a closeshadowing of the first by the second.
Georg Philipp Telemann, godfather ofJohann Sebastian Bach's son Carl Philipp Emanuel, who succeeded him as directorof music in Hamburg in 1767, enjoyed greater fame than Bach in his ownlife-time. It was he who, as a student, established the Leipzig UniversityCollegium musicum that Bach later directed in that city, and it was he who wasa preferred candidate for the position of Thomascantor that Bach eventuallytook in 1723. Telemann, descended from a family with strong clericalconnections in Lutheran Germany, was prolific and versatile as a composer,providing quantities of music, both sacred and secular, for professional andamateur use alike. In common with most of his contemporaries he wrote triosonatas in modest profusion, a hundred or so in all, many of them allowing somelatitude in choice of instrumentation. The two sonatas included in the presentcollection are typical of the genre and of the facility of Telemann's style,which in general lacks the harmonic and chromatic complexity of J.S. Bach,tending gradually towards the new style that his godson Carl Philipp EmanuelBach was to perfect.
The red-haired priest Antonio Vivaldi wasborn and bred in Venice, where he spent much of his life in the service of theOspedale della Piet?á, a charitable foundation with strong musical traditionsfor the education of orphan, illegitimate or indigent girls. He won an earlyreputation as a violinist and pursued a successful career as a performer,composer and teacher, having abandoned relatively early in life his purelyreligious duties on the grounds of ill health. For the Piet?á he wrote a vastquantity of concertos and was equally prolific in the opera-house, a venture inwhich he seems to have lost a great deal of money during the course of hislife. In common with other composers he wrote trio sonatas, following, as thoseof his generation had to, the example of the great Corelli, whose 48 triosonatas, written presumably towards the end of the previous century, were amodel of the genre. Vivaldi is represented in the present collection by threeworks, a trio sonata from the collection published in Amsterdam in 1716 as partof his Opus 5, a trio sonata from the first set of twelve such sonatas,published first in Venice in 1705, and a set of variations from the same set onthe famous Spanish dance La follia, a melody used by Corelli in thetwelfth of his sonatas for violin and basso continuo and by many othercomposers.
By comparison with Telemann and VivaldiJohann Friedrich Fasch may seem a minor figure. Born in Buttelstadt, near Weimar,in 1688, he distinguished himself at the University of Leipzig and was anunsuccessful candidate for the position of Thomaskantor in the city in 1722, apost offered to Telemann and, on his refusal, given to J.S. Bach. From 1722until his death in 1758 he served as Court Kapellmeister in Zerbst, butenjoyed, nevertheless, a considerable contemporary reputation, admired by Bachbut neglected by subsequent generations. His instrumental works, none of thempublished in his life-time, include nearly a hundred overtures, some 68concertos, 19 string symphonies and 18 trio sonatas, of which the sonata hereincluded is a fair example.
The famous Italian violinist GiuseppeTartini leads forward to a new style of composition and performance. Intendedby his parents for the priesthood, he abandoned his studies in favour of musicand established himself in Padua, his stay there briefly interrupted as theresult of his marriage, which won the official disapproval of the Bishop ofPadua. In 1721 he was appointed violinist at the basilica of St. Anthony in thecity where he spent much of the rest of his life, renowned as a performer andteacher at his so-called School of Nations. His many compositions include someforty trio sonatas and show increasingly the grace and lightness of the galantstyle that gradually superseded the complexities of the late Baroque.