Sonate per Flauto e Basso Continuo
Obras de P. Castrucci, A. Corelli, F.M. Veracini, G. Sanmartini y P. Locatelli
An outstanding characteristic early 18th century recorder repertoire is that it is drawn in great measure from that of other instruments, primarily the violin. Many editions offered simplified, commercial versions of well known works of the time intended for the use amateur [recorder] players. We find, for example, a simplified arrangement for recorder of Corelli’s Sonatas Op. V, No. 7 – 12 in a London edition which appeared only two years after the original edition for violin! In these sonatas we see all the common features of a recorder transcription of the time i.e. limited range and simplified passages. The present recording offers one of the first six sonatas in a recent and unsimplified version. This Sonata Op. V No. 6, with its splendid ornamentation by Corelli himself and its movements of wild virtuosity, could be considered a departure from the standard baroque recorder transcription (similar, of course, to the departure which can be found in the arrangement of the time of the Sonata Op. V No. 12, La Follia) although it still preserves the spirit of an adaptation.
Arcangelo Corelli holds the distinction of being the first composer whose reputation was derived exclusively from instrumental composition. With an output formally limited to the sonata (Op. I-V) and to the concerto grosso (Op. VI), he achieved immense renown throughout Europe, and even after his music was no longer in fashion, his works continued to be admired and studied. Born in Fusignano in 1653, after a period of study in Bologna he moved to Rome, where he settled permanently. He enjoyed great prestige as a violinist and conductor and spent the better part of his time in the service of the cardinals Pamphili and Ottoboni.
The extraordinary importance of the work of Corelli is due to two main factors: the systematic use of tonal formulae and the adoption of a formal model for the sonatas da chiesa and da camera. Corelli established an alternation of movements in slow and fast tempo with a structure in which, first, the fuller textures and simple rhythms are presented and then, in turn, the lighter, livelier textures and complex rhythms, contrast being the determining factor in the sequence of movements. Thus, it can be asserted that after 1670 it became common practice to balance the strength of musical elements in order to achieve well proportioned forms, the finest examples of which are to be found in the works of Corelli. It is paradoxical, that the universal adoption of the most innovative and inspired features of Corelli’s work, copied and reiterated again and again throughout the baroque period, makes them appear today like worn out clichés.
The present recording includes, apart from the Sonata Op. V No. 6 of Corelli, works of Locatelli, Castrucci, Veracini y Sammartini; all of whom were performers of great renown and whose sonatas represent a rereading, extension and transformation of the legacy of Corelli, as much in terms of form as technical demands. Through them, it is possible to observe the convergence of the da chiesa and da camera forms and the introduction of innovations drawn from the concerto and the suite.
The flute sonatas of Veracini, never published during the composer’s life, constitute, in fact, the first known collection of his music. The cover and the title page reveal to us that they are equally intended for both flute and violin and that their date of composition is the year 1716. Upon analysis, however, it appears that the writing is clearly flautistic in its technical simplicity and range. If we compare this collection with the following two, which were indeed published with their corresponding opus numbers, we immediately observe that the one at hand is more limited in terms of virtuosity, contrapuntal development, arpeggios, etc. Formally it adheres to the pattern of slow-fast-slow-fast, and in it predominates a simple, serene character based on Corellian elements.
Castrucci was one of the numerous pupils of Corelli and, like Veracini, eventually immigrated to London. There he was the first violinist of Händel’s orchestra for 22 years. After a long life of successes, he ended his days living in poverty in Dublin where he died in 1752. His collection of sonatas Op. 1 was repeatedly arranged for both recorder and transverse flute. The three sonatas recorded here reveal to us a musician who –as was said of him in his own time– is at times capricious and extravagant, or, in the words of Burney, mad. Simple at times and, in general, a lover of technical display, he shows, in any case, a great originality both in the character of the movements and in their structural elements: an abundance of material in every movement, frequent use of pedal notes, the use of elements of surprise, such as sudden modulation, unexpected chromaticisms, passages without bass, etc.
Sammartini also immigrated to London and lived there from 1728 until his death in 1750. He enjoyed great prestige as an oboist and his works continued to be performed for a long time after his death. His name is attached to many of the oboe solos in the operas of Händel. It is significant the comment made by Quantz after his visit to Milan in 1726, when he describes Sammartini as the only good musician among the winds who worked in the opera orchestra. According to Burney, his music is “full of science, originality, and fire.” His works for recorder and basso continuo have come down to us scattered among various manuscripts. In some cases the same works appear in versions for both recorder and transverse flute. We find the Sonata in G minor in the Sibbley collection at the Eastman School of Music and some of its movements also in a version for transverse flute in the edition of Le Cene of around 1736. In relation to the other works gathered together in this recording, it distances itself from the Corellian model by virtue of its Gallant style and its structure according to the modern three movement pattern.
Locatelli, possibly another student of Corelli, was very well known during his own time and highly regarded by posterity thanks to his concertos and studies for violin. The present sonata belongs to his collection XII Sonate à Flauto Traversière Solo é Basso which he edited himself in Amsterdam in 1732, the city where he established himself in 1729 and remained until his death. In the present recording the common practice of the time is followed, using a recorder in D to perform works for the transverse flute without the need for transposition. In this sonata Locatelli shows himself very much the virtuoso, with his elaborate ornaments in the slow movements, and a style of writing which inspires the wildest tempi in the fast movements, especially the final presto.
Dives and W. Turk, 1998