Recorded on 05/13/2008, uploaded on 01/24/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
The twelfth and last trio sonata of Antonio Vivaldi’s opus 1 is, in actuality, a set of variations upon “La folia,” a musical theme dating back to roughly the late 15th century. A harmonic structure similar to the modern-day 12-bar blues and based around the tonic and dominant harmonies of a minor key (usually D minor) and its relative major, “La folia” has served as the foundation of many pieces throughout the history of music. The first documented piece to appear with the name “folia” was by Jean-Baptiste Lully’s in 1672; after him followed Corelli, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, J. S. Bach and Handel. Even in the 19th century, the “folia” appeared in the second movement of Beethoven’ Fifth Symphony and Franz Liszt’s Rhapsodie Espagnole.
Vivaldi’s begins his variations on “La folia” with the theme in a triple meter and with a rhythm typical of the sarabande, a particularly suitable dance idiom for the melancholy chord progression. Twenty variations then follow. The first of these build in ornamentation and introduce imitative figures between the two violins, florid sixteenth note passages and eventually syncopations. The mood begins to change with Variation XIII, as eighths are interspersed with triplets while the following variation introduces imitative melodies between the violins with poignant dissonances. A sorrowful tone is adopted in Variation XII as the first violin utters a mournful tune above the folia bass. Beginning with Variation XVII, the music gradually builds in momentum culminating in the rapid figurations of the finale two variations. Finally, a brief coda returning to the sarabande rhythm with which the theme was announced placed over the octave figurations of the last variation closes the piece. Joseph DuBose
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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