Pietro Antonio Locatelli (1695 -1764)
Concerti grossi, Op.1, Nos. 7 -12
Concerto grosso No.7 in F major
Concerto grosso No.8 inF minor (Christmas Concerto)
Concerto grosso No.9 inD major
Concerto grosso No.10 inC major
Concerto grosso No.11 inC minor
Concerto grosso No.12 inG minor
A native of Bergamo, PietroLocatelli was born in 1695 and started his career there as a violinist at the church of S Maria Maggiore, a positionhe left in 1711 in order to study in Rome. There it is suggestedthat he took lessons from Corelli, a leading figure in the music of the city,still living in the palace of Cardinal Ottoboni, the Cancelleria,which he left the following year, as his health failed. Locatelli had a clear debfto the tradition established by Corelli, but it has been doubted that he wasever his pupil The possibility has been suggested that Locatelli studied withthe Florentine Giuseppe Valentini, presumed to have been a former pupil ofCorelli, a younger man, who, like Locatelli in later years, also included theviola in the concertino of his concerti grossi of 17l0. It was with Valentinithat he travelled about this time. His career as a performer continued in Italy, with thepatronage of Cardinal Ottoboni and of the Habsburg Governor of Mantua, PrincePhilip of Hessen-Darmstadt, who had given Vivaldi the title of maestro dicappella da camera, a position enjoyed largely in absentia. Similarly Locatellibecame virtuoso da camera to the Prince, suggesting a similar lack ofcontinuing obligation in Mantua, which he must, atleast, have visited for a time. Outside Italy he won anincreasing reputation for himself during visits to the Bavarian court and to Berlin, the secondin the entourage of the Elector of Saxony, August the Strong, employer of Vivaldi'spupil Pisendel and Veracini in a distinguished musical establishment.
In1729 Locatelli settled in Amsterdam, where he spent thegreater part of the rest of his life. Here, while continuing in his professionas a performer, as occasion demanded, he gave his attention to music forgentleman amateurs and to teaching. He collaborated with the importantpublisher Le Cene and was granted a licence to publish his own chamber music.
He enjoyed a position of some importance in the cultural life of the city, whilehis library is evidence of his own wide interests. His business activitiesincluded the importation and sale of Italian violin strings, perhaps throughthe agency of his mistress, widow of an Italian dealer in Amsterdam. As aviolinist he continued to amaze, if not always to delight, those who heard him,as Vivaldi did in Venice. Evidence of his virtuosity is seen in theremarkable L 'arte del violino, a set of twelve concerti with 24Caprices, published in Amsterdam in 1733, the latter making technical demandson the player comparable to those presented a hundred years later by Paganiniin his own Caprices. Like Corelli, his master, if not his teacher,Locatelli wrote principally for strings, with the exception of his Opus 2flute sonatas and one or two other works now lost.
Locatelli's XII Concerti grossi a 4e a 5 con 12 fughe, Opus 1, were first published in 1721, tobe revised in Amsterdam in 1729. The twelve concerti grossi follow largely thepattern established by Corelli in his influential and widely known concertigrossi, familiar to visitors to Rome in the last quarter of the seventeenthcentury, but published posthumously in 1714. The form established by Corellibroadly followed the popular trio sonata, scored normally for two violins,cello and harpsichord, organ or other chordal continuo. This was expanded intoa larger form in which the instruments of the trio sonata formed a concertino,a small solo group, to be contrasted with the body of the string orchestra, theconcerto grosso or ripieno players. On occasions Corelli could muster a verylarge orchestra, but his normal ensemble consisted of a dozen players,including the solo group. Locatelli differs from Corelli in using one or twoviolas in the solo group, a practice, as has been noted, followed by Valentini,as it was later by Geminiani and in the revision of Corelli by Pepusch in England. Theadditional concertino instrument allows more intricate counterpoint in fugalmovements and adds a certain fullness to the texture.
The first eight of the Concertigrossi, Opus 1, are in the general form of the sonata or concerto dachiesa, although the seventh adopts the three-movement form of the Venetianconcerto. The last four concerti are in the contrasted da camera form.
The distinction between church and chamber sonatas lies in the general practiceof alternating slow movements with fugal movements in the former, while thelatter is in the form of a dance suite. The forms used by Locatelli largelyecho those in the published work of Corelli, with the eighth of the set also aChristmas concerto, ending with a pastoral movement, a Siciliano, suggestingthe shepherds at Bethlehem, a convention widely followed. The last fourconcerti grossi of the set keep the general pattern of the German dance, the Allemandaand the slow Sarabande, ending with a quicker dance movement, theconventional Gigueor the less usual concluding Gavotte.