Antonio Vivaldi

Concerto in A minor


About this work

Though called a concerto, this composition is actually a chamber work for three melody instruments and continuo (usually played by harpsichord and cello or gamba), a format far more popular in Germany than in Vivaldi's Italy. Furthermore, the recorder (or sometimes flute) is not treated precisely like a virtuoso solo instrument; rather, it leads a dialog with the two violins, supported by the continuo.

The opening Allegro features a dance-like figure for the recorder that is often echoed bar-by-bar by the violins, although otherwise the strings largely chug along playing fast arpeggiated versions of the music's basic chord sequence. Between restatements of the main theme, which sometimes comes in the minor mode, the recorder indulges in rapid runs and flourishes.

The Largo again finds the violins playing melodic sequences that are little more than arpeggios on the music's chord sequence, while the recorder plays a languid, sometimes melancholy aria-like melody that invites increasing ornamentation. The final Allegro is unusual for Vivaldi in that it's a giga; the composer usually employed dances only in his sonatas, not his concertos. When the violins are occasionally prominent, the movement sounds less Scottish than Italian as it takes on the character of a tarantella.