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TVenice 1705 bighe trio Sonata in E minor contributed greatly to Vivaldi's string of early successes (RV 67, 1705).

It contains a lively Corrente passage, a slow and memorable Sarabanda section and a rapid and fun Giga ending. If it were just for these three sections, RV 67 would not have needed an entry in our “Vivaldi Updated” section. After three plus centuries, these three movements still hold their own, and they can remain essentially untouched.

However, there is a problematic Preludio section at the beginning of RV 67. It can be instructive to listen to any of several recordings available on YouTube. The written partition reveals a great number of “unusual” chordings, there is a glaring absence of counterpoint, plus a sumptious collection of complex parallel fifths and octaves. This is in total contrast with Vivaldi's typically simple, lucid and powerful usual style, particularly during that early time period. I would hasard the guess that Vivaldi obtained the help of a less experienced assistant for this Preludio, and that he never had a chance to redo this movement prior to the publication of the Sonata.

It might also be added that this short piece is unusually complex. The piece is difficult because of the many root changes, the great tonal variation, and its internal complexity. For each note the global tone only emerges from the combination of tonalities of the two-to-four voices. There is barely a trace of a leading tone. Changing one note only changes one contributor of the global tone. Because the melody evolves rapidly and for most part contains two tonal centres, the challenge of finding the best combination of tones was considerable for this short piece.

This is thus an excellellent candidate for our “Vivaldi Updated” series.

In the rewrite, I removed or “recycled” obvious parallel fifths and octaves, if possible into counterpoint configurations. I added a repetition, and I put in more expected chords. Also I raised the tempo from 30 bpm to 50 bpm. Altogether this permitted the emergence of a much cleaner, delicate and more poignant introduction to the entire Sonata.

The original arrangement was for two violins and continuo. I use two excellent simulated pianos in this piano version, a very even Ant Petrov piano for the first voice and a powerful D Steinway piano for the second voice and the continuo. For the 432 Hz harpsichord version, I used the Ruckers II implementation for the first voice and the Grimaldi instrument for the second and continuo voices. All instruments are emulated by Pianoteq. The pianos and harpsichords do excellent jobs of enhancing our chord progressions as well as the spatial distribution.

Piano, 440 Hz

Harpsichord, 432 Hz

MIDI files:

Sheet music:

Image: Venice in 1705. Map inscribed in French. Origin unknown.