Saturday, 2 November 2013


“Define a lady:  She who owns an oboe yet refuses to play it.” – Oboe Jokes

The illustration is Canaletto's "Arrival of the French Ambassador at the Doge's Palace".

For Music Saturday a delicious concerto from the pen of an Italian Baroque composer, Alessandro Marcello (1684-1750). It is his Concerto per Oboe, strings and basso continuo in D minor (SF 935 - Op.1; first published in 1717). It is in three movements: I. Andante e spiccato; II. Adagio; and III. Presto. Marcel Ponseele (Baroque Oboe) is accompanied by the Ensemble “Il Gardellino”.

A slightly older contemporary of Antonio Vivaldi, Alessandro Marcello held concerts at his hometown of Venice. He composed and published several sets of concertos, including six concertos under the title of ‘La Cetra’ (The Lyre), as well as cantatas, arias, canzonets, and violin sonatas. Marcello often composed under the pseudonym Eterio Stinfalico, his name as a member of the celebrated Arcadian Academy (Pontificia Accademia degli Arcadi). He died in Padua in 1747. Alessandro's brother was Benedetto Marcello (1686~1739), also a composer.

Although his works are infrequently performed today, Marcello is regarded as a very competent composer. His ‘La Cetra’ concertos according to Grove are “unusual for their wind solo parts, concision and use of counterpoint within a broadly Vivaldian style, placing them as a last outpost of the classic Venetian Baroque concerto”.

This concerto Marcello wrote in D minor for oboe, strings and basso continuo is perhaps his best-known work. The absolutely delightful middle movement is often played alone, but it wonderfully complemented by the two outer movements. Its worth was attested to by Johann Sebastian Bach who transcribed it for harpsichord (BWV 974).