The Vivaldi Project, Vol. 2 = The Classical String Trio, works by J.C. BACH, CAMIONI, HAYDN, and others – MSR 

The Classical String Trio: The Vivaldi Project, Vol. 2 = J.C. BACH: Sonata in G Major, B. 37; CAMIONI: Sonata in G minor, Op. 4, No. 2; HAYDN: Divertimento in D Major; KLAUSER: Trio in B-flat minor; GOSSEC: Trio in F Major, Op. 9, No. 3; BREVAL: Trio Concertante et Diologue in B-flat Major, Op. 27, No. 4; VIVALDI: Sonata da Camera a Tre in E minor, Op. 1, No. 2 – The Vivaldi Project – MSR Classics MS 1622, 64:54 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

The Vivaldi Project—Elizabeth Field, violin; Allison Edberg Nyquist, violin and viola; Stephanie Vial, cello—dedicates itself to restoring some 200 neglected works derived from the Baroque and early Classical periods. Focusing upon Antonio Vivaldi in his pivotal position between the musical epochs, the ensemble concentrates (rec. 2017) on that fertile decade c. 1760-1770, when the string trio emerged as a dominant outlet of expression in a wide range of musical styles.

J. C. Bach

J. C. Bach
by Thomas Gainsborough

The opening work, Johann Christian Bach’s Sonata in G Major (c. 1760), offers two lively movements that themselves revel in dynamic contrasts. The initial movement, marked Allegrino, has the violins in alternate states of buoyant charm, either in lush unison or in sporty dialogue. More of the Italian spirit emerges in the Tempo di Menuetto, and its suave, strutting phrases point to the kind of instrumental facility we likewise associate with Telemann. Carlo Antonio Campioni (1720-1788) wrote his relatively large Sonata in G minor for 2 Violins and thorough bass violoncello or harpsichord in 1762.  Campioni composed 42 trios, and a gifted amateur violinist, Thomas Jefferson, eagerly sought to master them all. The opening, martial Largo andante exploits the plaintive sonority of the cello in a way Boccherini might admire.  The middle movement, Allegro spiritoso, maneuvers French and Italian styles. The high-stepping melodic line has a drone cello to provide a rustic flavor. The Allegro assai finale sports an earthy gigue that utilizes the now-familiar double-stops in alternately paired instruments to effects its bravura charm.

Joseph Haydn’s Divertimento in D Major begins with an Adagio set as a coloratura aria for first violin, with the second violin’s serving as a lute or guitar in pizzicato. The music plays almost as an allusion to Vivaldi’s Winter Concerto second movement. The melodic line, singularly chromatic, makes some compelling harmony.  The Allegro casts a Neapolitan charm abroad, though the first violin part assumes a virtuoso status. The Menuetto & Trio proceeds in a series of rhetorical groups of questions, answers, and imitations.  Johann Ignaz Klausek (1720-1775) composed his unusual Trio in B-flat minor for a likely venue in Moravia.  Set for two violins and bass, the piece resonates with a plangent, moody authority.  The middle movement menuet, Andante, sings an introspective song in B-flat Major.  The work concludes with a Fuga in martial figures, gaining in sonority and resonance, only to find repose in the tonic major.

Portrait François-Joseph Gossec, by Antoine Vestier

François-Joseph Gossec
by Antoine Vestier

Francois-Joseph Gossec (1734-1829) brought sophistication to the French court in Paris, even thriving in the throes of the French Revolution. His Trio in F Major, Op. 9, No. 3 opts for a variety of textures that include 32nd notes. The first movement, Allegretto, bears an operatic melodic line. The use of up-bow spiccato in unison may owe debts to Viotti.  Irregular phrase lengths mark the Tempo di Menuetto, in which the first violin has a concertante element over a busy cello part. Jean-Baptiste Sebastien Breval (1753-1823) offers genuine string trio from c. 1826. A real salon moment in concertante style, this Parisian Trio in B-flat enjoys its secure sense of instrumentation in the expansive first movement Allegro, allotting soli passages of palpable wit to each of the principals. At several moments, we think of the Mozart A Major Violin Concerto. The middle movement Adagio flows in triple meter. Breval saves his mischief for the last movement Presto, whose F Major final cadence comes after Haydn-esque dance in rustic style in which first violin and cello each has had a dashing moment or two.

Our eponymous Vivaldi has but one contribution, a trio-sonata that typically sports some velocity for the first violin part. Even the bass part, allows Vivaldi, may be realized by another violin rather than cembalo. In four movements, much in the manner of a “room sonata,” the 1705 Sonata a Tre in E minor at first imparts a mood (“Grave”) of somber reflection. The ensuing Corrente allegro moves in close imitation.  The Giga allegro extends the lighter vein, although a sense of melancholy persists. The close writing seems to beckon to Bach for transcription. The Gavottta allegro enjoys a compressed energy that would surely enliven the Bach sense of intelligent play.

—Gary Lemco

Link to more information about The Vivaldi Project, and track samples, may be found here:

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