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Ensemble Caprice, Vivaldi And The Baroque Gypsies

There are a lot of things that people might not know, many more twists than you’d think about Vivaldi.

caprice

Photo: Ensemble Caprice

Ensemble Caprice is renowned for its innovative interpretations of baroque music.

Recorder player Matthias Maute is a founder and leader of Ensemble Caprice. Here are some highlights of his interview with WFIU’s George Walker.

Vivaldi, Sure! But Gypsy?

“There are a lot of things that people might not know about Vivaldi. First of all, he went to Eastern Europe to perform his operas. The Grove Dictionary says that he must have known the music of the Prague hinterlands – that means the rural musicians, the traveling players. Also, La Pieta, where he was teaching young girls, was right at the canal. There he would have had a chance to hear all the people arriving from Eastern Europe. This just hasn’t been pointed out enough. It’s quite striking.

“One example that illustrates Vivaldi’s closeness to gypsy music is his variations on the theme ‘La Folia.’ He obviously tries to show all the tricks that he knew in an impressive piece. You find the same kinds of lengths and the same kind of improvisational spirit that you find in gypsy music.”

Written Sources

“Fortunately we don’t have to rely just on the elements that Vivaldi chose for his own pieces. There’s a great collection of the gypsy melodies and dances from the period, the Uhrovska Collection of 1730.

“Preparing the Uhrovska Collection for performance is quite an adventure. We try to recreate the spirit of what we think must have been. We add a bass line and then middle parts. Then we need to extemporize, and to add upper lines as well. We have the testimony of Telemann, who wrote that these musicians were wonderful players and improvisers, so we work to recreate their experience.”

George Walker

After completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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