Volume 67, Summer 2011
Antonio Vivaldi Concerto in D minor, RV431a ('Il Gran Mogul');
Concerto in E minor, RV431
ed and reconstructed by
Edition HH, HH272.FSC, Bicester, 2010
ISMN 979 0 708092 23 0
There has been a great deal of excitement surrounding the recent discovery of a hitherto unlocated flute concerto by Vivaldi (1678-1741) among the family papers of the Marquesses of Lothian, owned by the National Archive of Scotland in Edinburgh. Vivaldi experts La Serenissima have recently given the first modern performances of the work in January with Katy Bircher playing the flute solo, and their recording is due for release in May.
Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Andrew Woolley, Edition HH have wasted no time in publishing this 'new' concerto in D minor for flute and strings RV431a, 'Il Gran Mogul', in a beautifully clear and informative edition which also contains a hypothetical completion of a related flute concerto fragment in E minor (RV431) - thus giving the traverso player the option to play much of the same material in an easier key, if desired.
Woolley has ingeniously transposed the delightful, plangent middle Larghetto of 'Il Gran Mogul' and inserted it between the extant outer Allegros of the E minor work, which is missing its original slow movement. There are, however, differences between the first and third movements of the two concertos. The tutti sections are, for the most part, similar enough and it is in figuration of the solo passagework, albeit over almost identical simple harmonies, that the variety occurs.
When I first heard about this concerto I assumed, wrongly, that it might be a version of the dazzling violin concerto 'Il Grosso Mogul' - and had been wondering how Vivaldi might have adapted his fiendish, virtuosic and stratospheric violin lines for the flute; I needn't have worried! The flute concerto is eminently playable, even in D minor, with successive trill scales providing the only real technical challenge.
'Il Gran Mogul' is short, charming and innocuous; it doesn't contain the imaginative or daring writing of some of the op.10 concertos (eg. 'La Notte' or 'Il Gardellino'), where Vivaldi exploits the colour and potential of the baroque flute to great effect. However, in the hands of an enterprising and virtuosic performer, both of these pieces will surely come to life.
We are grateful to theThe Consort for permission to reproduce this review.