Concerto for Violin and Cello in A major, RV 546 (Vivaldi, Antonio)
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|Work Title||Concerto for Violin and Cello in A major|
|Alternative Title||Concerto con uno violino et uno violoncello obbligato all'inglese|
|Opus/Catalogue Number||RV 546|
|Instrumentation||Violin, Cello (or Viol), Strings and Continuo|
- all'inglese note:
The name Vivaldi and the instrument viola da gamba were, until fairly recently, seldom mentioned in the same sentence. The viol, from the mid 17th century had pretty much disappeared in Italy whereas to to north of the Alps was still florishing. It was the simple fact that it had been replaced first by the bass violin and then by the cello.
Interestingly, in about five or so of his more than 800 works, Vivaldi included some movements for an instrument that Vivaldi calls viola inglese (English viol), viola all inglese or violoncello all'ingelse (which is perhaps the case with this RV 546 work). This, perhaps was an instrument not from the violin family even though for hundreds of years these parts were performed on the baritone cello by musicians. It seems to be that the viola da gamba had not disappeared entirely in Italy. Vivaldi was taught the viol by his father Giovanni Battista Vivaldi (who himself worked at the Ospedale dei mendicanti in Venice, which in fact had a consort of seven viols). Starting from 1704 Antonio Vivaldi taught not only violin class and also taught the "viola all’inglese" at the Ospedale della Pietà. There is even evidence of instruments being loaned to the various institutions of the Pietà by wealthy Venetian people. Therefore the golden age of the viol at the Pietà coincided closely with the period during which Vivaldi composed works including this instrument, which was around 1720.
This piece therefore could have been written expressly for the viola da gamba because of the handwritten note by the composer calling for the violoncello obligato all’inglese. This concerto (RV 546) dates from about 1720, gives a relatively new use of this instrument; the contrast between the tones of the violin and the bass viol is extremely fascinating. The original manuscript, which is preserved in Torino, Italy in the Biblioteca Nationale, show Vivaldi’s extraordinary inventiveness in the combination of timbres and the development of the concertante and virtuoso language.