Recorder Concerto

Antonio Vivaldi

Recorder Concerto in C minor


About this work

Antonio Vivaldi only wrote two concerti specifically for the recorder ("flauto"), one of which is the RV 441 concerto in C minor. By contrast, 13 of Vivaldi's concerti specify the transverse flute ("flauto traverso"), but the fact that two of the flute concerti in his Op. 10 of 1728 were adapted from works originally written for recorder shows that the two can be easily substituted for one another in concert. The recorder certainly had to have been popular when Vivaldi wrote RV 441, for it demands a real recorder virtuoso.

Structurally, each movement follows standard ritornello form, with typically Vivaldian touches like modulation within ritornello sections in the outer movements. The minor mode is almost unrelieved throughout, with only a few momentary major moments. But the first movement is remarkable for the leaping arpeggios it demands of the recorder player, derived from violin playing and much more difficult on the recorder. In the Largo slow movement a simple ritornello provides a frame for the short, sad, generously embellished solo. This seems a momentary respite compared to the Allegro finale; the ritornello music here is dramatically slower than the recorder's solos, which are again rife with treacherous runs and arpeggios that most performers wouldn't want to try on the flute, either.