Saturday, November 15, 2008


I sat in the UofT music library yesterday looking for a cantata by Francesco Conti (who was theorbo player at the Viennese court in the early 18th c.) to do on the New Year's Day concert. Conti's best known work is a four movement motet that had oboes and I think a viola part added to it by J.S. Bach.

There are eight cantatas by Conti printed in facsimile by SPES editions. They use some combinations of voice, continuo, chalemeau (an early clarinet), oboe, flute and 'leuto francese'. This last instrument is a d-minor Baroque lute like you would use in Bach's John Passion and the part's written out in tablature. Very unusual for an Italian composer to be playing one of those. None of the cantatas use just violin and leuto franc. and continuo, though, so unless we add a wind player.

I got carried away and was fantasizing about playing Conti's sonata for mandolin (it would be gut strung and played with the fingers, as was Vivaldi's). Luckily it appears that the manuscript in a Czech library has not been printed in facsimile anywhere, else I might have started learning to play another instrument, which is all I need.

Hallie's back from Bloomington now. We'll choose some repertoire for a couple of house concerts at the end of this week today. I have been reading through some seguidillas by Fernando Sor, a Spanish guitarist of the late 18th-early 19th century, on a modern classical guitar. It's hard to get the thing to sound with no nails. Maybe Santa will bring me a circa 1800 instrument for Xmas.

Here's a picture of an Italian mandolin taken by David Jensen when he was fixing someone's harpsichord.

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