This week's listening suggestion comes from a master of Baroque music--not J.S. Bach nor George Friderick Handel, but Antonio Vivaldi. Rest assured, though, that Bach and Handel will appear on my list later in the summer.
Vivaldi was incredibly prolific in composing instrumental concertos for a variety of instruments and combinations, but his concertos for violin stand at the peak of his accomplishments. His set of four, Le quattro stagioni (The Four Seasons) has become one of the most known, and most loved, concerto groupings in Baroque music. However, Vivaldi's catalog of works includes over 500 concertos, with almost half being for solo violin, strings, and continuo. Among these are my suggestion for this week, a set of twelve called La stravaganza (The Extravagance), op. 4, from roughly 1713. I have chosen these because they represent Vivaldi's native ingenuity within a fairly tight musical environment and for their sheer ability to intrigue the listener with surprisingly diverse and satisfying music. And, they make great summer chilling-out listening.
The twelve concertos of La Stravaganza are:
Concerto No. 1 in B-flat major, RV 383a, Concerto No. 2 in E minor, RV 279, Concerto No. 3 in G major, RV 301, Concerto No. 4 in A minor, RV 357, Concerto No. 5 in A major, RV 347, Concerto No. 6 in G minor, RV 316a, Concerto No. 7 in C major, RV 185, Concerto No. 8 in D minor, RV 249, Concerto No. 9 in F major, RV 284, Concerto No. 10 in C minor, RV 196, Concerto No. 11 in D major, RV 204, Concerto No. 12 in G major, RV 298
Many of these, if not all, can be found on YouTube. A notable collection of all twelve won Gramophone magazine's "Best Baroque Recording of 2003" - violinist Rachel Podger and Arte Dei Suonatori on Channel Classics, # 19598.