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News - Concerto Grosso!

Birds on a Balustrade, Melchior d'Hondecoeter, c. 1680 - c. 1690 (Rijksmuseum)
Monday, March 19, 2018
The concerto grosso proved to be a fruitful genre for J.S. Bach, G.F. Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, and their Baroque peers, and modern music has picked up where the 18th-century masters left off. Below are selections from our varied catalog of classical and contemporary takes on the concerto grosso.
 
Alfred Schnittke is the most recognized proponent of the genre in recent memory, and an early Russian recording of his first two Concerti Grossi was added to streaming services last year. A rhythmic connection to the baroque period is likewise evident in Avner Dorman's Concerto Grosso, a wild contortion of Handel's Concerto Grosso, Opus 6, No. 4. Morton Gould's Vivaldi Gallery is another example of collaging together modern and Baroque material, but his own Concerto Grosso is foremost an American work: "A transformation of hoedown tunes…[the soloists] play, in the first and last movements, like a bat out of hell," as he once described it.
 
Scores: Dorman - Concerto Grosso | Gould - Concerto Grosso and Vivaldi Gallery

 
The malleability of the concerto grosso invites composers to try out unusual constellations of soloists; Danish-American composer Andy Pape's Concerto Grosso features cello, recorder, and tuba, while Swede Britta Byström's Yankadi brings an ensemble of oboe, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, violin, and 'cello to the front of the stage. With Ritual Incantations, Augusta Read Thomas offers cello concerto with a twist, seating a trio of flute, oboe, and violin behind the soloist.
 
Scores: Pape - Concerto Grosso | Byström - Yankadi | Thomas - Ritual Incantations

 
Philip Glass' Concerto Grosso offers an atmosphere of transparency, while Anders Koppel's Sinfonia Concertante exhibits continuous play of brilliant melodies, mingling between the string orchestra and the soloist group (violin, viola, clarinet, bassoon). Robert Xavier RodríguezOktoechos, inspired by the eponymous ancient system of Byzantine chant, employs eight soloists divided into two groups of high and low registers: violin, clarinet, trumpet, and percussion on one side, and cello, bassoon, tenor trombone, and piano on the other. All three unfold compact motives into colorful and cohesive tapestries, no less spirited than their Baroque predecessors.
 
Scores: Glass - Concerto Grosso | Koppel - Sinfonia Concertante | Rodríguez - Oktoechos

 

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