The passionate Trevor Pinnock is leading various sections of the Concertgebouworkest through three centuries of feel-good music: this is grand music for smaller combinations of instruments - winds before, strings after the intermission.
Gabrieli composed music to impress. This programme features grand music for small brass band. With his ‘Gran partita’ for winds, Mozart somewhat ‘stretched’ the usual instrumentation. Dvořák wrote his Serenade for strings in the happiest time of his life. All these composers took their respective genres to the next level.
At St Mark’s Basilica in sixteenth-century Venice, Gabrieli pushed his virtuoso ensemble to great heights. He cleverly made use of the space and acoustics of the cathedral by splitting his ensemble in two and experimenting with different dynamics. Gabrieli’s contemporary Viadana also composed music for cathedrals. He drew inspiration from the city of Bergamo for his Sinfonia ‘La Bergamasca’.
Compared to all the festive blasts from the brass, Mozart’s Serenade in B-flat, better known as the ‘Gran partita’, is more subdued, but certainly no less impressive. Serenades usually serve as occasional music for more intimate moments, but Mozart naturally put his own twist on the form, expanding it to include a full wind band. With a work lasting nearly a whole hour, Mozart is the centre of attention, although perhaps it’s a piece you might not want to perform under a balcony!
Pinnock juxtaposes these various works for wind instruments with Dvořák’s lovely Serenade for strings. The composer had just married, his first child was born, he had a permanent position as organist and a government grant in his pocket. The work exudes happiness, a fact which can have eluded no one since the work’s very first performance.