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The Baroque Concerto in Theory and Practice Author(s): Steven Zohn Source: The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Fall 2009), pp. 566-594 Published by: University of California Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 29/03/2013 05:52Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .

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R e vi e w Essa y The Baroque Concerto in Theory and PracticeSteven Zohn


hose familiar with undergraduate survey courses that cover eighteenth-century music have likely crossed paths with an archetypal diagram of ritornello form, held up as the supporting framework not only for Vivaldis fast concerto movements but also for those by numerous other composers from Bach to Mozart. Though the diagrams pleasing symmetries are typically enthroned in the courses textbook, Rs and Ss hovering above Roman numerals in color-coded boxes, students carefully copy down the Vivaldian game plan as if it were a mathematical equation or anatomical drawingfor they will surely be asked to reproduce it on the next test. And despite the efforts of conscientious instructors to counter a nearly irresistible (some might say inevitable) tendency to over-simplify the concertos early history, students often come away believing that Vivaldis formal innovations, as crystallized in a supposedly representative movement or two, were universally adopted by his contemporaries; that his concertos fully reflect the highly goal-directed, harmonic tonality that had recently replaced the old modal system; and that these works quickly became mainstays of the various orchestras then popping up across Europe, as the novel texture of doubled members of the violin family pitted against a soloist captivated both composers and listeners. Such formulations, although historically grounded, are called into question by three recent books that aim to set the record straightor perhaps a bit more crookedwith respect to the baroque concerto. Simon McVeigh and Jehoash Hirshbergs The Italian Solo Concerto,The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 26, Issue 4, pp. 566594, ISSN 0277-9269, electronic ISSN 1533-8347. 2010 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Presss Rights and Permissions website, DOI: 10.1525/ jm.2009.26.4.566.


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zohn17001760: Rhetorical Strategies and Style History (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2004) dispels a number of misconceptions about the vast repertory of more than 800 solo concertos by Vivaldi and his Italian contemporaries. If it does not quite deliver the comprehensive survey implied by its titleonly first (fast) movements are considered, and primarily from a formalist perspectivethis book engages its topic with an unprecedented degree of analytical rigor, greatly refining our view of how several generations of Italian composers approached ritornello form. McVeigh and Hirshberg are perceptive critics of musical style, equally alert to personal idioms and geographical and chronological trends. Moreover, their impressive command of the material allows them to draw musical connections across the repertory. Instead of constructing a potentially misleading, inappropriately linear narrative of stylistic change in a body of music that on the whole cannot be dated precisely, they conduct statistical studies of individual composers concertos, grouping them into regional centers whenever possible. Supporting the many insightful analyses of individual movements are a wealth of musical examples, statistical tables, and formal diagrams. Richard Maunders The Scoring of Baroque Concertos (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2004) treats the genre as a broadly European phenomenon within the traditional chronological framework of 16851750, offering a comprehensive overview of the repertory underpinned by an impressive knowledge of manuscript and printed sources. Yet the books focus on proving the hypothesis that one-to-a-part performance was a nearly universal practice during the early eighteenth century makes it both more and less than a traditional survey of the composers and styles associated with the baroque concerto. Maunders extensive discussions of scoring and occasional commentaries on musical style are divided into two chronological segments, each with chapters organized according to geography (16851725: Bologna, Venice, Rome, Germany and Holland, England; 172550: Italy, Germany, The Low Countries and France, England). Despite the books overarching concern with the question of how many and (in the case of bass lines) what type of string instruments were intended for particular concertos, readers primarily interested in the music itself will find much to stimulate them. The many musical examples are well chosen, although Boydell, as McVeigh and Hirshberg, has uncomfortably crowded them into the main text. In many respects, these two books are worthy successors to classic studies of the baroque concerto by Arnold Schering, Hans Engel, Arthur Hutchings, and Pippa Drummond.1 Like their predecessors, they1 Arnold Schering, Geschichte des Instrumentalkonzerts bis auf die Gegenwart (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Hrtel, 1905; 2nd ed., 1927); Hans Engel, Das Instrumentalkonzert (Leipzig:


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t he j o u rn al o f m u sic o l ogyoffer fresh perspectives on familiar music and point to unaccountably neglected composers and works. Maunder, for example, argues compellingly that Corellis Concerti grossi, op. 6, were composed not long before their publication in 1714or at least that the evidence for their supposed existence as far back as the 1680s is inconclusive at best. He also provides a fascinating survey of the earliest concertos performed and published in England, along with tantalizing descriptions of Giovanni Mossis op. 4, Antonio Montanaris op.1, and Willem de Feschs opp. 2 and 3. McVeigh and Hirshberg provide a valuable discussion of Giuseppe Valentinis mature works; they allow Giuseppe Alberti to emerge from the shadow of Vivaldi and take his place as one of the originators of ritornello form (p. 229); and they single out more than a few interesting concertos by obscure figures (one piece by Angelo Maria Scaccia is colorfully characterized by them as a rhetorical argument in the subjunctive, offering diverse implications and delayed realizations; p. 260). They also call attention to a number of Bolognese concertos that seem well worth reviving, including three works by Girolamo Nicol Laurenti preserved in Dresden and a characteristic concerto by Gaetano Zavateri (A tempesta di mare). Whether or not these two composers, along with Gaetano Maria Schiassi, really can be considered to have overthrown a Bolognese concerto tradition, the authors do make a convincing case that local preferences ceded more than a little ground to Venetian influences. The Bolognese tradition itself, represented by Torelli and several of his contemporaries, is discussed at length by Maunder.2 Such attention to dimly lit corners of the repertory is especially welcome at a time when most recent work on the baroque concerto has concerned itself with canonical figures, notably J.S. Bach, Handel, Telemann, and Vivaldi, wider surveys of the genre being limited for the most part to chapter-length overviews in handbook-style volumes.3Breitkopf & Hrtel, 1932); Arthur Hutchings, The Baroque Concerto (New York: W.W. Norton, 1961; 3rd rev. ed., New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1979); Pippa Drummond, The German Concerto: Five Eighteenth-Century Studies (Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1980). 2 For a more recent discussion of the early Bolognese concerto, see Gregory Barnett, Bolognese Instrumental Music, 16601710: Spiritual Comfort, Courtly Delight, and Commercial Triumph (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008), 293360. 3 Among book-length studies devoted in whole or in part to the concertos of individual baroque composers, see in particular Wolfgang Hirschmann, Studien zum Konzertschaffen von Georg Philipp Telemann, 2 vols. (Kassel: Brenreiter, 1986); Malcolm Boyd, Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); Meike ten Brink, Die Fltenkonzerte von Johann Joachim Quantz: Untersuchungen zu ihrer berlieferung und Form, 2 vols. (Hildesheim: Olms, 1995); Michael Marissen, The Social and Religious Designs of J.S. Bachs Brandenburg Concertos (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995); Laurence Dreyfus, Bach and the Patterns of Invention (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996); Paul Everett, Vivaldi: The Four Seasons and Other Concertos, op. 8 (Cambridge:


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