Vivaldi - The Baroque Gypsies / Maute, Ensemble Caprice

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As a virtuoso and composer, Vivaldi travelled widely, and it is likely that he encountered nomadic musicians during these excursions. One can also easily imagine how travellers arriving from Eastern European countries would perform their music along the Slavic Canal where Vivaldi taught for many years at an orphanage school. Telemann comments in one of his autobiographies that a skilled composer could gain enough musical inspiration to last a lifetime by listening to gypsy musicians. The obvious closeness to gypsy music of the motifs used in the opening tutti in the third movement of the late concerto RV 375 makes a link even more tempting to surmise. The ragged initial sixteenth notes, the syncopated rhythms, the abrupt dynamic contrasts and the pianissimo passages that appear are almost identical in the Uhrovska collection (1730) of gypsy music.

The Uhrovska collection (named for the town in Slovakia where it was found) is a fascinating document that provides a direct glimpse into the world of gypsy music. The approximately 350 melodies it contains were probably intended to be as comprehensive a collection of gypsy music as possible. Its multi-national character documents the extent to which the gypsies—and their music with them—travelled. Hungarian melodies stand next to Czech songs and the location of Uhrovska's discovery in Slovakia suggests further national influences.

It became obvious to us during this project that the undercurrent of kinship between these two different music styles is too insistent and that the rough and fresh gypsy music must have exerted a great fascination on a composer like Vivaldi. Although cause for speculation remains, we hope that the listener will be inclined to share our enthusiasm for this unusual musical encounter.

-- Matthias Maute

Tracks include 17 anonymous pieces from the Uhrovska collection of gypsy music as well as Vivaldi concertos RV 375, RV 533, RV 104, and P 81.

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: AN29912

  • UPC: 774204991227

  • Label: Analekta

  • Composer: Anonymous, Antonio Vivaldi

  • Conductor: Matthias Maute

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Ensemble Caprice