Posts Tagged ‘resources’

The Numbering of Vivaldi’s Bassoon Concerti

If you’ve ever played, lis­tened to, or researched any­thing by Anto­nio Vivaldi, then you’ve prob­a­bly run into the mish­mash of dif­fer­ent num­ber­ing sys­tems for his works. There are in fact five sep­a­rate cat­a­loging schemes for Vivaldi’s instru­men­tal pieces, each with its own inter­nal logic, and there’s no sim­ple way to con­vert from one to another on the fly. It can thus be incred­i­bly frus­trat­ing to go from a schol­arly arti­cle to per­form­ing edi­tions to crit­i­cal or com­plete works edi­tions to record­ings, as each of those media may well ref­er­ence a dif­fer­ent num­ber for the same piece.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time think­ing about Vivaldi’s 39 bas­soon con­certi. The Meg Quigley Vivaldi Com­pe­ti­tion, for which I’m the Direc­tor of Oper­a­tions, uses a dif­fer­ent Vivaldi con­certo each time around. I wrote the liner notes for the first disc of Nad­ina Mackie Jack­son’s series of all the con­certi. Last year I cre­ated a new per­form­ing edi­tion of his Con­certo in g minor, RV 495. Through­out, I’ve been able to keep all the num­ber­ing sys­tems straight thanks to Jef­frey Lyman’s excel­lent Table of Con­cor­dances: Vivaldi Con­certi for Bas­soon. This table lists all 37 com­plete con­certi along with their des­ig­na­tions in each of the five num­ber­ing sys­tems, and builds on work by Trevor Cramer and George Conrey.

My only com­plaint about this table is that it presents the data sorted by only one sys­tem, which means that it some­times takes a while to hunt through the other columns to find what you’re look­ing for. So, I decided to make the com­pletely sortable ver­sion below. As long as you have Javascript enabled, you can click on any col­umn header to sort the by that num­ber­ing sys­tem. This should make it easy to locate whichever num­ber you need. I’ve also added in Vivaldi’s two incom­plete bas­soon con­certi, just for the sake of com­plete­ness. Below the table you’ll find expla­na­tions of the num­ber­ing sys­tems, if you care to know why we have so many.

Read More

A New Edition of Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto in G Minor, RV 495

I’m very excited today to release some­thing to the world on which I’ve spent a great deal of time: a new per­form­ing edi­tion of Anto­nio Vivaldi’s Con­certo in G minor for bas­soon, strings, and basso con­tinuo (RV 495), pre­pared using a copy of Vivaldi’s own man­u­script. You can down­load the whole thing (for free!) at the end of this post. But first I’d like to talk a bit about my path to the piece and my meth­ods in cre­at­ing this edi­tion. I hope that this will all prove use­ful to some­one out there, par­tic­u­larly since this is one of the required pieces for the 2014 Meg Quigley Vivaldi Com­pe­ti­tion.

Vivaldi Autograph

I’ve played a cou­ple of Vivaldi’s other con­certi in the past. But my rela­tion­ship with this piece began last year, after Nad­ina Mackie Jack­son did me the honor of ask­ing me to write the liner notes for the first disc in what will even­tu­ally be a set of all the Vivaldi bas­soon con­certi. I dove into the project with my cus­tom­ary gusto — books lit­tered my desk and floor, and PDFs of mis­cel­la­neous Vival­diana deliv­ered to me by the wiz­ards of Inter­li­brary Loan sim­i­larly clut­tered my lap­top screen. As far as I’m con­cerned, research is the fun part. If I could just keep find­ing and absorb­ing more sources with­out ever hav­ing to actu­ally write any­thing, I’d be that much hap­pier. But aside from the var­i­ous print mate­ri­als, I had a more-or-less con­stant Vivaldi bas­soon con­certo sound­track — mostly pre-release mixes of Nadina’s record­ing, but also ver­sions by Michael McCraw, Ser­gio Azzolini, Mau­rice Allard, and others.

By the time I had fin­ished the notes for Nad­ina, I was thor­oughly fired-up about Vivaldi and his 37 bas­soon con­certi (plus two incom­plete works). So much so, in fact, that I asked Lorna Peters, Sacra­mento State’s won­der­ful harp­si­chord (and piano) teacher, if she’d con­sider pro­gram­ming one of them with Cam­er­ata Capis­trano, the school’s Baroque ensem­ble. Hap­pily for me, she agreed, and I set about pick­ing a piece. It’s prob­a­bly not sur­pris­ing that I chose one of the con­certi from Nadina’s disc (RV 495), with which I’d been singing along for weeks. There are many things I love about this con­certo. The first move­ment is fiery and flashy. The sec­ond move­ment fore­gos the upper strings entirely, cre­at­ing a beau­ti­ful and pas­sion­ate dia­log between soloist and con­tinuo. The third move­ment is just all-out inten­sity — it starts with the whole ensem­ble in dri­ving uni­son (almost the Baroque equiv­a­lent of power chords), and con­tains what I think is one of the best licks ever writ­ten for bas­soon (mm. 53–56).

I first per­formed the piece with Cam­er­ata Capis­trano in Feb­ru­ary of this year, and luck­ily we’ve had many chances to present it again since then. Our tenth per­for­mance will come this Sun­day, as part of the Bravo Bach Fes­ti­val in Sacra­mento. This is the first time I’ve per­formed a sin­gle solo work so often, and I’ve found it to be an incred­i­bly instruc­tive and free­ing expe­ri­ence. The abil­ity to actu­ally take chances and try new things over the course of mul­ti­ple per­for­mances can shape your per­cep­tion of and rela­tion­ship to a piece in ways that are dif­fi­cult — if not impos­si­ble — to recre­ate in the prac­tice room or in a stand-alone per­for­mance. Even though I fin­ished school a num­ber of years ago, the one-and-done degree recital men­tal­ity is some­thing I’m still try­ing to shake. But that’s a topic for another post.

As soon as I’d set­tled on this con­certo, I knew that I wanted to cre­ate my own per­form­ing edi­tion. At the time, I couldn’t locate an edi­tion with string parts (I’ve since found one, avail­able only from Ger­many). Plus, what bet­ter way to learn a piece back­wards and for­wards than to study the man­u­script and make up a new score and set of parts? I could eas­ily have used as my source the score pub­lished in 1957 as part of Ricordi’s Com­plete Works edi­tion. But the edi­tor, Gian Francesco Malip­iero, pro­vided no crit­i­cal com­men­tary and appears to have made some edi­to­r­ial deci­sions with­out explic­itly indi­cat­ing that he’d done so. So instead, I went right to Vivaldi’s own manuscript.

Vivaldi's shorthand for whole-ensemble unison writing

Vivaldi’s short­hand for whole-ensemble uni­son writing

Vivaldi’s bas­soon con­certi (and indeed most of his works) were not pub­lished in his own life­time, and are only known to us through a mas­sive col­lec­tion of man­u­script scores that now resides at the Bib­lioteca Nazionale in Turin, Italy. Most of these are in the composer’s own hand, and the col­lec­tion con­tains many incom­plete sketches and drafts. These are strong indi­ca­tions that the col­lec­tion was Vivaldi’s own com­pendium of his works, and as such, the scores are far from performance-ready. The com­poser made exten­sive use of short­hand tech­niques, includ­ing dal segni that would be awk­ward in per­for­mance and sim­ply indi­cat­ing uni­son parts instead of writ­ing out the same music on mul­ti­ple lines (see the exam­ple at right).

Beyond expand­ing this short­hand, I endeav­ored to keep my edi­to­r­ial hand as light as pos­si­ble. But inevitably, there were a few instances in which I made changes or inter­pre­tive deci­sions. I have detailed these in a crit­i­cal report within the score. I have not added any artic­u­la­tions, dynam­ics, orna­ments, or any other per­for­mance sug­ges­tions; these are totally “clean” parts. There are, how­ever, a few impor­tant ways in which this edi­tion dif­fers from the Ricordi edi­tion (and other edi­tions that have used Ricordi as their source):

  • Through­out the con­certo, Vivaldi indi­cates that the soloist should join the con­tinuo line dur­ing tutti sec­tions. Except for the few pas­sages in which Vivaldi did not make such an indi­ca­tion, I have pro­vided the soloist with the bass line in small nota­tion. The Ricordi score leaves rests for the bas­soon in all of these passages.
  • Mea­sures 211–214 of the Presto are in D minor in Vivaldi’s man­u­script. In mea­sure 211 it appears that he has writ­ten and then wiped away or scratched out a sharp sym­bol on an F in the Viola part, but there are no other F-sharps marked in those mea­sures. There is then a sud­den change to D major in mea­sure 215. The Ricordi score places the whole pas­sage in D major.
  • Mea­sure 260 of the Presto does not exist in the Ricordi edi­tion. This comes at the end of the last solo sec­tion, and the final ritor­nello is a repeat of mea­sures 23–55. In Vivaldi’s man­u­script, he wrote out a full mea­sure of res­o­lu­tion (my bar 260), and then indi­cated a dal segno to mea­sure 23. Ricordi omit­ted this mea­sure, and instead elided the last solo cadence with the begin­ning of the final ritornello.
  • Vivaldi wrote artic­u­la­tion marks over the eighth notes in the solo part in mea­sures 249–252 and 258–259. The Ricordi edi­tion ren­ders all of these marks as stac­cati. But in Vivaldi’s hand, the marks in mea­sures 258–259 are clearly longer than those in 249–252 (see below). Thus, I have marked the eighth notes in 249–252 as stac­cato and those in 258–259 with wedges.
Two types of Vivaldi's articulation marks

Two types of Vivaldi’s artic­u­la­tion marks

For the actual engrav­ing of the score and parts, I used Lily­Pond, which I also used for my fin­ger­ing charts. It can be kind of a has­sle but pro­duces very ele­gant results. Also like my fin­ger­ing charts, I’m releas­ing this under a Cre­ative Com­mons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. Basi­cally, it means you can use, alter, copy, or dis­trib­ute this how­ever you’d like, so long as you give me credit and don’t sell it.

It is impor­tant to note that this edi­tion does not include a key­board reduc­tion. It is suit­able only for study or for per­for­mance with string play­ers and a com­pe­tent harp­si­chordist. If you need a fully written-out key­board part, I would rec­om­mend the new bassoon/piano edi­tion pub­lished by TrevCo Music Pub­lish­ing (they list it under its Fanna num­ber: F8#23).

And now, with­out fur­ther ado, here it is:

Com­plete Score and Parts (ZIP)

Vivaldi RV 495 — Com­plete Set

Indi­vid­ual Files (PDFs)

Vivaldi RV 495 — Bas­soon
Vivaldi RV 495 — Vio­lin 1
Vivaldi RV 495 — Vio­lin 2
Vivaldi RV 495 — Viola
Vivaldi RV 495 — Basso Con­tinuo
Vivaldi RV 495 — Basso Con­tinuo (alter­nate ver­sion with the sec­ond move­ment in score)
Vivaldi RV 495 — Score

Although I’ve gone over all of this with a num­ber of fine-tooth combs, I’d wel­come any cor­rec­tions, com­ments, or other feedback.

Fingering Charts

Update (6/25/2014): Find the lat­est ver­sion of my fin­ger­ing charts here: http://davidawells.com/resources/fingering-charts/

E-flat fingering

My favorite fin­ger­ing. No, really…

A cou­ple of weeks ago, I started teach­ing a high school vio­list who decided that she’d like to play the bas­soon. Not know­ing if she’d got­ten her hands on a fin­ger­ing chart or not, I decided to take one to her les­son. I have quite a few charts lying around, but as I looked through them, I real­ized that I didn’t com­pletely agree with any of them, at least not for use by a begin­ning stu­dent. I ended up tak­ing her a copy of a chart that I’d got­ten from the Conn-Selmer web site, but only after I’d marked it all up with a pen. It turned out that she did have a fin­ger­ing chart already, but I didn’t com­pletely agree with it, either. As I was dri­ving home from her first les­son, I thought to myself how silly it is to give a stu­dent a fin­ger­ing chart that I’ve marked all over, espe­cially since this cer­tainly isn’t the first time I’ve done so. I resolved then and there that I’d make my own fin­ger­ing chart.

Awhile ago, I’d come across the very cool and well-thought-out Fin­ger­ing Dia­gram Builder built by Bret Pimentel, multiple-woodwinds teacher at Delta State Uni­ver­sity. (You can read more about the FDB here). But until now, I hadn’t done any more than just play around with it. I used Bret’s FDB to crank out an image for each of my basic fin­ger­ings. I included my most com­mon alter­nate fin­ger­ings, but didn’t get into slur, muted, trill, or other variations.

Once I had all of the images, I had to decide how best to lay them out within a score. I’ve been using Finale for years, but I’d recently started play­ing around with Lily­Pond. Lily­Pond is an open-source music engrav­ing pro­gram that pro­duces very nice-looking scores — far closer in appear­ance to good old-fashioned hand engrav­ing than Finale’s often jagged and weirdly-spaced out­put. The down­side (if you choose to see it that way) is that Lily­Pond has no graph­i­cal user inter­face; it gen­er­ates scores from spe­cially for­mat­ted text files, and is in that way more like a pro­gram­ming lan­guage than a tra­di­tional nota­tion pro­gram. But, I’d been look­ing for a project to under­take with Lily­Pond, and this seemed like just the thing.

It took awhile to get the hang of Lily­Pond, and some for­mat­ting things I only ever got by trial and error. But, I finally ended up with two ver­sions of my per­sonal fin­ger­ing chart. The first is the one I’ll hand stu­dents. It cov­ers the more-or-less stan­dard range of the bas­soon (Bb1 — E5), uses only bass and tenor clefs, and includes a dia­gram with key names. The sec­ond, which I’ve dubbed my “Pro” chart, dis­cards the key dia­gram and switches to tre­ble clef at the top end. Oh, it also goes up to Bb5 (although I don’t yet have a reli­able fin­ger­ing for A5 — anybody?).

Since Bret has made the dia­grams gen­er­ated by his FDB avail­able under a Cre­ative Com­mons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) license, I’ve done the same with my charts. Please, take a look and let me know what you think. Is there any­thing I could do to make them eas­ier to read, eas­ier to use, or just plain look nicer? Or do you spot any fin­ger­ings that I’ve ren­dered incorrectly?