The music of Georg Philipp Telemann was one of the driving forces behind the late Baroque and the early Classical styles. Central to his repertoire was his 600 Overture- Suite, which usually combined dances with pieces of programme music. In the Ouverture ‘La Bouffonne’, – the title means the ‘joker’ or ‘jester’, a set of dance suites reveal a man of theatre, curious, a seasoned reader, a comedian and keen observer of the physical and political world that surrounds him. Corelli’s Concerto in D Major Op. 6 No. 4 is notable for its overall joyfully charged sound, making it a frequently used example when demonstrating Corelli’s renowned cantabile style.
These baroque works draw us nicely to the concerto performed in this concert: Robert Rival’s Violin Concerto “All’ombra de’ cipressi” (Under the Shadow of the Cypresses), which is a joint commission between Thirteen Strings, Sinfonia Toronto and Orchestre classique de Montréal. His starting point was the music of the Baroque- Vivaldi in particular. Rival says of his concerto: “Vivaldi’s example serves only as a starting point. My concerto’s harmonic world inhabits an extended tonal idiom, the ritornello and the sequences themselves moving among a multitude of scale-types. I treat rhythm flexibly: conflicting rhythms, metres, and even tempi, abound. The Adagio, interrupted by two cadenzas, metrically decouples the soloist’s lyrical line from the accompaniment. Illuminated by shining harmonics, the swirling third movement alludes to Galileo’s discovery of “more worlds rotating in the eternal sky”.
This work is juxtaposed with one of the most well- loved works of classical music: Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. The work is inspired by the 1881 poem of the same name by the English writer George Meredith. It was originally written for violin and piano, completed in 1914, but not performed until 1920. The composer reworked it for solo violin and orchestra after the First World War. This version, in which the work is chiefly known, was first performed in 1921. It is subtitled “A Romance”, a term that Vaughan Williams favoured for contemplative slow music.