Violin Concerto

Antonio Vivaldi

Violin Concerto in Bb major

Op. 8/10, RV362 • “La caccia”

About this work

By 1725, Antonio Vivaldi had so many commissions that even his prodigious abilities were beginning to be stretched thin. Not that he was running out of ideas -- his vein of melody, harmony, and rhythm was inexhaustible -- he was running out of names to give his pieces so that his patrons would have some way of identifying which work was which. In his Concertos (12) for violin, strings, and basso continuo, which he called "Il Cimento dell'armonica e dell'inventione" (The Combat of Harmony and Invention), Vivaldi had already used the poetic conceit of the hunt in the concerto called "Autumn" from the Four Seasons before he decided to re-visit the conceit in the Concerto in B flat major, named "La caccia" (The Hunt). Set in three movements, "La caccia" once again uses the orchestral violins in imitation of hunting horns in the opening Allegro. In the central Adagio, the conceit of the hunt seems to have been dropped unless the restful melodies of the soloist are meant to depict the hunters at their ease. In the closing Allegro, Vivaldi returns to the conceit only to the extent that the muscular rhythms and jaunty melodies shared by the ripieno and the soloists could be said to evoke the sound of a village dance after the hunt. But however successfully one might judge Vivaldi's attempt to depict extra-musical evens, one can only judge his music as wholly and completely successful.