VIIIA: The Concerto in the Italian Settecento

The three central figures of the concerto were Corelli , Torelli , and Vivaldi ; they were however surrounded by a host of brilliant composers whose works are hardly less brilliant. They fall roughly into a conservative and a progressive group though many composers cannot be categorically classified. The conservatives continued the tradition of the church concerto in the polyphonic style of Corelli, notably Albicastro , Albinoni , Bonporti , Gregori, Mascitti, and also Alessandro Scarlatti whose retrospective concertos and sinfonie contrast with the progressive style of his operas. The progressive group comprised mainly Venetian composers who emulated the concerto style of Vivaldi, notably the Germanized Italian dall'Abaco , Gasparini , Manfredini, Marcello, Montanari, Taglietti, Tessarini, and Giuseppe Valentini .

The younger generation was represented by Geminiani and Locatelli . Geminiani, a pupil of Corelli and Scarlatti, belonged to the conservative camp. He enlarged the traditional trio of the concertino to a full string quartet by the addition of the viola and arranged in this heavy medium the trio sonatas of Corelli as concerti grossi-a clear indication that for the conservatives the trio sonata still dominated the conception of the concerto grosso. Geminiani's leanings toward strict counterpoint come to light in his use of canonic writing and such significant titles as Arte della Fuga. In spite of its contrapuntal complexity, however, his style seems pallid and lacks individual distinction. Locatelli, on the other hand, also a pupil of Corelli, turned the modern concerto in a highly personal manner into a vehicle of stupendous virtuosity. The technical demands of his Capricci--optional cadenzas for the solo concertos--have hardly been surpassed even by composers of the classic period. In his concerti grossi Locatelli adhered, like Geminiani, to Corelli's solid contrapuntal style, but his harmonic imagination was far superior to that of Geminiani. The powerful influence of the opera can be seen in the Pianto d'Arianna in which the late baroque recitative is transferred to instrumental music. The numerous solo concertos of Tartini are already indebted to the style galant which set an end to the music of the baroque era.

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