"…à 2 Violin. Verstimbt" (‘…for two violins. mistuned’)

Music for two violins in scordatura and basso continuo.

December 1698: Sébastian de Brossard, composer, music theorist and one of the foremost music collectors of the baroque era, leaves Strasbourg after serving eleven years at the cathedral as vicar and master of the chapel. He takes with him a treasure chest filled with manuscript music, which he had acquired from the legacy of Franz Rost, a priest and cantor of Baden-Baden. Due to this fortunate purchase by Brossard the so-called Codex Rost has been preserved to this day and it constitutes a highly important source of 17th-century music from the German speaking lands. The collection consists of instrumental music by German and Italian composers and it includes works by famous composers such as J. H. Schmelzer, J. Rosenmüller, M. Cazzati et al. Yet the many anonymous compositions in the collection are consistently of a very high quality, too.
The music in the Codex Rost is partly written for violins in scordatura. The term ‘scordatura’ denotes a re-tuning of the standard tuning of an instrument. These ‘mistuned’ violins produce novel and extraordinary sounds and resonances. Thus the scordatura expands the technical and tonal possibilities of the instrument. During the 17th century works for scordatura violins were particularly popular with composers from the German speaking realm.

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„Singbar, neu, lebhaft, natürlich“ (‘tuneful, new, animated, natural’)

Trio sonatas by C. P. E Bach, J. G. Goldberg and J. G. Graun

‘Saxony’s lustre and Prussia’s glory’ is the simple formula, which often has been used to describe the antagonism of the highly militarised state of Frederick the Great and the artistic splendour of the ‘Florence on the Elbe’. Yet the aggressive policy of Augustus II the Strong, Elector of Saxony from 1694 to 1733, certainly matched Frederick’s craving for power. At the same time, Frederick the Great managed to rebuild Saxony’s cultural lustre in Berlin by luring several important musicians from Dresden to his court: Frederick’s flute teacher Quantz as well as the concert master Johann Gottlieb Graun came from Dresden. C. P. E. Bach also stemmed from Saxony. The trio sonatas by these composers rival the exceedingly beautiful and elegant compositions of the Dresden court.

London – a musical centre of the baroque era

Trio sonatas by G. F. Handel, W. Boyce, H. Purcell et al.

The composers of this programme came from different nations, but all of them lived and worked for some time in London. They all wrote large scale works such as operas, but also chamber music for daily use at home.

Brescianello - 12 Concerti à 3

G. A. Brescianello’s 12 Concerti à 3 are preserved as a whole at the library of the Conservatorio Statale di Musica Luigi Cherubini in Florence. It is assumed that these concertos date from Brescianello’s time in Italy before 1715 due to the location of the source. Today these concertos would rather be designated as ‘trio sonatas’ for two violins and bass, whereas in 18-century terminology the works are real concertos. The well-calculated variety within and between the works points to a consciously planned set of 12 concertos and not just a collection transmitted by coincidence. The works form an important artistic statement by an admired composer of the 18th century.

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