Antonio Vivaldi: Flute Concerto No.1
La Tempesta di Mare (RV 433)
Subtitled ‘The Storm at Sea’, Antonio Vivaldi’s First Flute Concerto was the start of his collection of six concertos for the instrument. Published c.1720s, the concerto was one of many concertos that Vivaldi wrote that brought the concerto genre into popularity. The theme of a storm was a popular choice for the time, with many other baroque composers using the same ideas for their works. The significant changeover from using the recorder to using the newly-devised flute was a big step in instrument development, with La Tempesta di Mare perhaps being one of the first ever concertos written for the flute in that form.
Set into three exciting movements, La Tempesta di Mare sticks to the conventional three-movement structure.
Movement I – Allegro
The exciting opening movement opens with an orchestral introduction before the flute quickly enters with cascading scalic themes. The two parties start a music dialogue before coming together on harmonically-significant cadences. The virtuosic nature of the flute part comes from the fast pace and the many notes written for the soloist to play. High in energy and excitement, the opening movement is full of thrilling and dramatic melodic developments.
Movement II – Largo
The short and slow lyrical middle movement starts with the solo flute. The sparse accompaniment adds emphasis on the soloist, as the melody is slowly drawn out. Laden with decorations, the melody largely stays in the middle range for the instrument, which the strings also emulate. As it began, this movement also concludes quietly.
Movement III – Presto
The quick-paced finale movement opens with a call and response figure between the orchestra and soloist. The joyful atmosphere is accentuated by the fast melody and natural harmonic progressions. At times the orchestra and soloist unite, which creates a sense of unity and power. At other times the two are very separate and the soloist leads the majority of this movement. A final flourish finishes this concerto off in style.
Ⓒ Alex Burns