Concerto in G for Two Violins and Two Cellos, RV 575
Composed: before 1730
Length: c. 10 minutes
Orchestration: strings, continuo, and two solo violins and two solo cellos
First Los Angeles Philharmonic performances
Little is known about Vivaldi’s Concerto in G, RV 575. The very dearth of information, and the moderate level of virtuosity it requires, mean that he likely wrote it for Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, an institution with which he was associated for most of his life. In 1703 the young priest was hired to teach string instruments at the Ospedale, an institution for homeless and indigent girls. The high quality of their musical performances made the Ospedale a major attraction for local music lovers and international tourists in an age when tourism was already Venice’s leading industry, and were thus a major source of financial support for the Ospedale. Vivaldi’s relationship with the Ospedale changed repeatedly over the years as its needs and finances, and Vivaldi’s own interests and aspirations, changed. In 1723, when it became clear that his career as a violin virtuoso and opera composer would take him away from Venice much of the time, he sent the Ospedale two concertos every month: more than 140 of them between 1723 and 1729.
Unlike the concertos Vivaldi published (which, in the interest of maximizing sales, are necessarily limited in their instrumentation to instrumental resources that would not be difficult for amateur players to round up), the concertos for the Ospedale explore all sorts of combinations. He wrote two concertos for the combination of two violins, two cellos, strings, and continuo, which makes that combination a relative rarity for a composer who wrote 26 concertos for solo cello, 39 for bassoon, and three for the combination of recorder, oboe, violin, and bassoon.
Lawyer and lutenist Howard Posner also annotates programs for the Salzburg Festival.