-Johann Sebastian Bach - Georg Philipp Telemann - George Frederick Handel - Henry Purcell - Johann Heinrich Buttsted - Antonio Lotti
-Recording this particular program was a wondrous event for us, full of challenge and discovery. We intentionally chose pieces that were written in some of the truly unique forms that were invented and refined during the baroque era.
-Domenico Girolamo Scarlatti (1685-1757) enjoyed some success composing operas and cantatas but is most remembered for his hundreds of keyboard sonatas. Nearly all of these are short works in simple binary form in which he gave free reign to his imagination, creating pieces that sound modern even now and that reflect the sights and sounds experienced by this well-traveled musician.
-Scarlatti demonstrated virtuoso technique in these sonatas, employing numerous ornaments, rapidly repeated notes, hands crossing over one another, and wide jumps across the keyboard. Scarlatti's sonatas can be either bright and exuberant or introspective, in styles that translate well for solo guitar.
-Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) transcribed several of his own harpsichord and violin pieces into arrangements for the baroque lute. The Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998, was most likely written on a keyboard instrument, for Bach did not play the lute though he was much enamored with its sound. This three movement work, which dates from around 1740, is inscribed "por la luth Ã² Cembal" - for the lute or harpsichord - and may have been played by Bach on a Lautenwerk, a keyboard instrument with gut and metal strings designed to sound like a baroque lute.
-The twenty-four preludes and fugues from the Well Tempered Clavier represent Bach's dedication to the establishment of tempered intonation. Adapting his instruments to this more refined tuning allowed Bach to play in any and all keys and to expand his compositions freely into larger and more complicated works. The first Prelude and Fugue from this collection, BWV 846, is recorded here as an arrangement for solo guitar, transposed from the original key of C major to A. In this key, the lyrical descending bass line of the prelude and the expansive range of the fugue can be played with fewer changes from the original scoring.
-Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767) ranked among the most successful composers during his lifetime, completely overshadowing J. S. Bach whose music was not fully appreciated until some years after his death. George Frederick Handel once said of Telemann that he could write a work in eight parts as easily as anyone else could write a letter.
-The two Canonic Sonatas presented here come from a collection entitled "Six Canons or Sonatas for two German Flutes or two Violins, Compos'd by Georg Philip Telemann." The title for this publication illustrates the practice of leaving some latitude in the choice of instruments, providing more opportunity for sales to the flourishing amateur Hausmusik market in Hamburg during that time. Each movement of these sonatas is a two-part canon in which both musicians play precisely the same lines, but one measure apart.
-Iain Osgood and I began exploring Telemann's collection of canonic sonatas after playing the well-known third movement from sonata number one. The movement is a favorite duet among guitarists and has been performed and recorded many times. Playing it inspired us to look at the rest of the collection, and our exploration quickly turned into a labor of love. Telemann's unique treatment of harmony and rhythm in the individual movements, such as the suggestion of four-part arrangements for the voices of the slow middle movement and chromatic lines in the faster third movement of the first sonata are repeated in the subsequent sonatas giving the collection a structure that tickles the mind as much as the ear.
-George Fredrick Handel (1685 - 1759) It is said that with the composition of Handel's oratorio the Messiah, in 1742, that the entire baroque tradition reached its climax. It should be remembered that in Italy, from which baroque music received its principal spark and direction, the period of new concepts in baroque style had ended some ten to twenty years earlier, giving way to the style galant, and that German composers like Bach, Handel and Telemann brought the baroque era to its consummation in the northern countries of Germany and England.
-Handel spent some of his early years as a musician in Italy, before settling in London in 1720 where he produced several operas at the King's Theatre influenced by his Italian experience. In addition to operas and oratorios, Handel also wrote cantatas, sacred music, orchestral, instrumental, and vocal works. The Air Lentemente and Fughetta are transcriptions from keyboard manuscripts, played here as guitar solos.
-Henry Purcell (1659-1695) whose career was spent as a musician in the English royal court, composed semi-operatic entertainments such as "The Fairy Queen", based loosely on Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and "King Arthur" based on the book by Dryden. He also wrote instrumental music in the early baroque style.
-His "A Ground In Gamut" is one of the oldest versions of the variations form, and the word "Gamut" originally meant the note G on the bottom line of the bass clef (the ground). Gamut also came to mean a scale, particularly in the key of G.
-Johann Heinrich Buttsted (1666-1727), born in Bindersleben Erfurt, is famous for a paper he wrote in defense of solmization. He wrote German masses and harpsichord music including the Menuet in D minor transcribed here for guitar solo.
-Antonio Lotti (1667-1740) composed operas and sacred music, beginning his career in Venice as organist at St. Marks and moving to Dresden in 1717 to direct the court opera. In this recording of Lotti's Sonata in G Major for flute, cello, and continuo, the guitar has taken the continuo part, an improvised chordal accompaniment that was probably first played on harpsichord by Lotti himself and which sets the rhythmic groundwork for the intertwining flute and cello melodies played by flutist Laura Campbell and cellist Chris White.
-Lotti's sonata is written in the form known as a trio setting of the chamber duet, the duet being between the flute and cello, with the gutiar playing the continuo part to complete the harmony. This style of writing has been described by Manfred Bukofzer in Music in the Baroque Era as "one of the happiest and most influential innovations of baroque music."
December 10, 2003
Karl Wolff: Guitar
Iain Osgood: Guitar
Laura Campbell: Flute
Chris White: Cello
Recorded: June - December 2003 - Ithaca New York
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1. Sonata in B Major - Domenico Scarlatti
2. Sonata in D Minor - Domenico Scarlatti
3. Prelude - BWV 998 - Johann Sebastian Bach
4. Fugue - BWV 998 - Johann Sebastian Bach
5. Allegro - BWV 998 - Johann Sebastian Bach
6. Canonic Sonata in G - Telemann - Vivace
7. Adagio - Telemann
8. Allegro - Telemann
9. Canonic Sonata in D - Telemann - Spirituoso
10. Larghetto - Telemann
11. Allegro assai - Telemann
12. Air Lentamente - George Fredrick Handel
13. Fughetta - George Fredrick Handel
14. Ground in Gamut - Henry Purcell
15. Menuet - Johann Heinrich Buttsted
16. Prelude and Fugue No. 1 BWV 846 - J. S.Bach
17. Sonata In G - Flute, Guitar, Cello - Lotti - Largo