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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) wrote a good number of concertos without a soloist, a form called concerto a quattro (“concerto in four parts”), concerto ripieno, or sinfonia. The Concerto in C, RV 114, is from a set of concertos copied by Vivaldi’s father in the 1720s, and is now in the Paris Conservatory library. The Ciaccona last movement seems to be a nod to French taste: French operas typically ended with a chaconne consisting of variations over a descending ground bass like the one Vivaldi uses here. They typically digress into the minor, as Vivaldi’s Ciaccona does. Until the very Vivaldian signature at the end, it could almost pass for French. The middle “movement” consists of only three chords.
Vivaldi wrote about 20 oboe concertos. They may have been written for students or faculty at the Ospedale della Pieta, the girls’ school where he taught for years, and to which he regularly sent compositions in later years when he spent much of his time touring. The Ospedale always had prominent oboe teachers. The Concerto in C, RV 450 is Vivaldi’s own reworking of his concerto for bassoon, RV 471.
- Howard Posner