VIVALDI: II Pastor Fido Op. 13, Nos. 1- 6 (Bela Drahos/ Ibolya Toth/ Pal Kelemen/ Zsuzsa Pertis) (Naxos: 8.550648)
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Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741)
Il Pastor Fido, Op. 13
Once virtually forgotten, Antonio Vivaldi now enjoys areputation that equals the international fame he enjoyed in his heyday. Born in Venice in1678, the son of a barber who was himself to win distinction as a violinist in the serviceof the great Gabrielis and Monteverdi at the basilica of San Marco, he studied for thepriesthood and was ordained in 1703. At the same time he established himself as aviolinist of remarkable ability. A later visitor to Venice described his playing in theopera-house in 1715, his use of high positions so that his fingers almost touched thebridge of the violin, leaving little room for the bow, and his contrapuntal cadenza, afugue played at great speed. The experience, the observer added, was too artificial to beenjoyable. Nevertheless Vivaldi was among the most famous virtuosi of the day, as well asbeing a prolific composer of music that won wide favour at home and abroad and exercised afar-reaching influence on the music of others. For this reason his name became a guaranteeof quality, particularly after the great success of The Four Seasons.
Il Pastor Fido, one of themost popular works attributed to Vivaldi, is of doubtful authorship, although it containsidentifiable borrowings from Vivaldi and contemporary Italian composers. Not unnaturally,no manuscript of the six sonatas survives, and modern editions are derived from twosurviving copies printed in Paris in 1737, with the title "Il Pastor Fido", Sonates pour la Musette, Viele, FI??te. Hautbois, Violon Avecla Basse Continue dei Sig' Antonio Vivaldi opera XIII. The edition is dated17th April 1737 and the surviving copies are in the Bavarian State Library and in thelibrary at Arles. Doubt is cast on the authenticity of the six sonatas, whatever theirmerits, by the suggested instrumentation, which includes the fashionable French musette(shepherd bagpipe) and vielle (hurdy-gurdy), instruments now obsolete, at least in musicof this kind. The publication, by Jean-Noel Marchand, a French musician, was part of theattempt to profit from the popularity of Italian music, without infringing the royalmonopoly of publication granted to others, notably, in this case, to the Le Clercbrothers. A plausible case has been made for Nicolas Chedeville as the composer of Il Pastor Fido, a musician to whom the work wasattributed in a document of 1749. The case for Chedeville must rest chiefly on hispre-eminence as a composer for the musette and the hurdy-gurdy (vielle a roue). He wasdescribed in contemporary sources as the master of the musette for the ladies of France.
Whatever their authorship, the sonatas of Il Pastor Fido contain attractive music, withvaried dance movements. In particular the fourth sonata contains a typical Pastorale, aversion of the Siciliana generally associated with shepherds, whether at Bethlehem orelsewhere, here with an added solo cello. The final sonata, the only one of the set in aminor key, contains a fugue with two voices, the bass figuring allowing the addition ofchordal harmony from the keyboard instrument.
Bela Drahos was born in Kaposvar in South-West Hungary in 1955and entered the Gyor Conservatory in 1969, winning first prize in the Concertino Prague'71 International Flute Competition and a year later in the flute competition staged byHungarian Television. Study at the Liszt Academy in Budapest led to graduation withdistinction In 1978, after a further award in Prague and in 1979 at the BratislavaInterpodium, and further distinction, including the Hungarian Liszt Prize in 1985,selection as Artist of the Year in Hungary in 1986 and the Bartok-Pasztory Prize in 1988.
Bela Drahos is the leader and founding member of the Hungarian Radio Wind Quintet andsince 1976 has served as Principal Flautist of the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. Hisconcert career has included performances throughout Europe and as far afield as NewZealand.
The Hungarian cellist Pal Kelemen was born in 1945, completinghis studies at the Liszt Academy in 1970. He had started his career in 1968 in theorchestra of the Hungarian State Opera, in 1970 joining the Liszt Chamber Orchestra, anensemble with which he has travelled widely and played in some 200 recordings.
The Hungarian keyboard-player Zsuzsa Pertis was a piano pupilof Pal Kadosa at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, proceeding thereafter to the ViennaAcademy. where she studied the harpsichord under Isolde Ahlgrimm, graduating withdistinction in 1969, a year after winning second prize in the Bruges InternationalHarpsichord Competition. Since 1969 she has been professor of harpsichord at the LisztAcademy and is a member of the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra. She has performed in themajor cities of Europe and with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra abroad and at home inthe concert-hall and the recording studio.