One might be forgiven for thinking that the only composer of note to emerge from the city state of Venice was Vivaldi. His Four Seasons is relentlessly played in shops and on Classic FM along with Eine Klein Nachtmusik by Mozart. Last night, Peter Horwood showed that in fact the Venice school produced a huge range of composers and that the city was a pathbreaker in several musical forms.
He went right back to the fourteenth century with some Gregorian chants and pieces of choral music by Marchettus de Padua, Ave corpus sanctum; Francesco Landini, motet principium nobilissime; and Johannes Ciconia, motet: Venecie Mundi Splendor. Some of this music was composed for ceremonial purposes, some for religious.
As the evening went on, it was interesting to see the development of style and the addition of orchestral instruments to the choral works. The first operas were written here and indeed some composers seem to have composed prodigious numbers of them. Monteverdi featured and included an extract from one of his operas La Favola d’rfeo and the ritornello, Dal mio Permesso amoto.
One of the composers who impressed the audience was Tamaso Albinoni and his Concerto No 2 for oboe and strings in D minor from which we heard the enchanting Adagio. The three movement concerto form which we know so well today was first developed in Venice.
The historical context was also interesting with the observation that as Venice’s economic fortunes declined by contrast, the artistic life flourished. One wondered if there could be a similar thing going on today …
Venice eventually got conquered by the invasion by Napoleon but even so, musical life went on and the evening finished with a composition by Malipiero (1882 – 1973) Gabrieliana – Allegro vivace. In modern times, composers have visited the City and composed works there. These include Wagner, Stravinsky, and Britten.
A superb presentation by Peter and fascinating to see and hear the development of style and composition over seven hundred years.
And not a note of Vivaldi …
Nest meeting of 31 October