It's all-Vivaldi all the time

Concert: REBEL, an early-music ensemble, will perform concerti and sonatas of the Italian composer on Saturday.

Preview

Howard Live

February 24, 2005|By Eileen Soskin | Eileen Soskin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Hardly anyone can resist tapping their toes to the music of Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), one of the most famous and important Italian composers of the Baroque period. His music is infectious, charming and impassioned.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, the Candlelight Concert Series presents REBEL (pronounced "re-Bell"), an early-music ensemble in an all-Vivaldi concert of concerti and sonatas. The concert's title ("Antonio Vivaldi: Shades of Red") refers to the composer's nickname, the Red-Headed Priest, and also implies a vividness that will be apparent in the music and the performance.

In his time, Vivaldi's fame rested largely on his violin playing. He composed more than 500 concerti, including 248 concerti for solo violin. He also wrote 90 solo sonatas, more than 40 operas, and a good deal of sacred music (Masses, psalms, motets and cantatas).

REBEL has chosen to perform concerti and sonatas for recorder, flute, strings and basso continuo. The basso continuo, instruments that function as the orchestral group, provide heft and a harmonic framework for the featured instrumental soloists and may include double bass, harpsichord, theorbo (a large lute), lute and baroque guitar. The soloists include flute, recorder, violin and viola.

Vivaldi's contemporaries, and quite a few modern critics, fault him for lack of originality: Some say that he did not write 500 concerti, he wrote one concerto 500 times. It is true that there are many givens in a Vivaldi concerto -- you will hear a three-movement work with fast-slow-fast tempi; you will hear music that alternates between solo passages (single or multiple soloists) and tutti or ripieno passages (the rest of the ensemble); the beat will be steady and mesmerizing (remember to tap your toes quietly); and the melodies will be catchy and beautiful and expressive.

Yet each work has individual characteristics that distinguish it: a distinctive melodic turn; a more lyrical, expressive slow movement; or an interesting harmonic or tonal twist.

REBEL's personnel for this concert include Matthias Maute on recorder, Jorg-Michael Schwarz and Karen Marie Marmer on violin, Peter Bucknell on viola, John Moran (a faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory) on violoncello, Anne Trout on double bass, Dongsok Shin on harpsichord and Daniel Swenberg on theorbo, lute and baroque guitar.

REBEL will perform in Room 100 of the Instructional Lab Building, across from Smith Theatre at Howard Community College.

This small room is the perfect setting in which to hear Vivaldi: The musicians, virtuosic and engaged, will be in a true chamber, and it might seem that they are playing just for you.

Information or tickets: 410-480-9950, or www.candle lightconcerts.org.

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