1. Vivace - grave
3. Adagio - allegro - adagio
5. Allegro - largo
G. B. Sammartini (1701 - 1775) - Concerto di Natale Op. 5/6
G. Torelli (1658 - 1709) - Concerto per il Santo Natale in G minor Op. 8/6
11. Grave - vivace
F. M. Manfredini (1684 - 1762) - Concerto Grosso per il Santissimo Natale in C major Op. 3/12
P. A. Locatelli (1695 - 1764) - Concerto di Natale in F minor Op. 1/8
Veliana Dimova, first violin;
Emilia Vangelova, second violin;
Jan Pipal, cello;
Maria Amelia Abreu, harpsichord;
Nova Filarmonia Portuguesa;
Alvaro Cassuto, conductor
This album contains five beautiful Baroque Concertos which were intended for the feast of Christmas, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. In the Baroque period (and still long afterwards) both sacred and secular music was mainly written for special occasions. Music was ordered by church principals or the aristocracy and the composer was well aware of the fact that his music would probably be performed only once. These composers did not write for eternal fame, they just wrote by standing order. Still this rather functional approach of artistic expression (at least seen through the eyes of a twentieth-century esthetic) does not mean that these composers were less capable of creating beautiful art. On the contrary.
Above all other countries Italy maintained a musical supremacy (which was affirmed above all in the field of instrumental music and opera) during the last twenty years of the seventeenth century and during much of the eighteenth century. The instrumental style of the Italian school developed rapidly. In keyboard composition, the styles of organ and harpsichord separated finally and unmistakably, while, at the same time, a specific instrumental style of writing for the violin was also beginning to emerge. The first important form which is fully recognizable by the mid seventeenth-century was the trio sonata, which was to prepare the way for later types of chamber music and even played a part in the origins of the symphony.
The Italian composers of the later seventeenth century were quick to improve on the no doubt rudimentary, but already established musical forms to which they were the heirs, and their works often anticipate those of the eighteenth-century masters of central Europe, who were happy to seek inspiration from them. It is well-known, for example, that the great Johann Sebastian Bach studied the works of Antonio Vivaldi, many of which he transcribed for harpsichord.
If the early and middle Baroque in Italy were times of experimentation and novelty, followed by consolidation, the late Baroque was a time of ripening and fulfillment, of firmly established forms that encouraged composers in the invention of new ideas. Where Arcangelo Corelli stands for the establishment of the late Baroque ideal in the instrumental field, Vivaldi stands for its final phase.
In many respects the work of Corelli forms the link between the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries; he did not actually invent the musical forms which he employed (like for instance the Concerto Grosso) but Corelli gave them a nobility and perfection which makes him one of the greatest 'classicists'. On the other hand Vivaldi holds a major position in the history of musical form: he developed the solo concerto, and he was no less an innovator in the field of symphonic writing; its pre-classic form reached the height of precision in his operatic overtures as well as in the orchestral passages of his concertos.
Contemporary composers like Sammartini, Torelli, Manfreddini and Locatelli added lustre to the Venetian school. The Christmas Concertos presented on this record tell us much about their talent to write both occasional and beautiful music.
(Famke Damsté, from the original liner notes)