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Music by the Numbers: Works Labeled ‘Opus 5’

This week on Harmonia we'll look at the opus 5 from the 17th and 18th centuries.

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The word opus has several meanings.  In Latin, it simply means “work.”  In music, it refers to a single composition which has been given a number, usually indicating its publication order.  This week we’ll look at the opus 5 from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Arcangelo Corelli

Perhaps Arcangelo Corelli‘s violin sonatas are the most famous publication with the designation opus 5, but did you know that his student, Francesco Geminiani, arranged these pieces for string orchestra? The Academy of Ancient Music, directed by Andrew Manze, performs Geminiani’s Concerto No. 4 on the Harmonia Mundi release Concerti Grossi (after Corelli, op. 5).

Pietro Antonio Locatelli

Corelli’s was not the only famous opus 5 from the Baroque. Pietro Antonio Locatelli’s Sonata op. 5 No. 2 is also one of the few of the many pieces composed in the Baroque period than can be labeled as a “hit.” The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra performs this lesser known opus 5 on their release entitled Locatelli: Introuduttioni Teatral.

Jean-Marie Leclair

Jean-Marie Leclair was a French virtuoso violinist so enamored of the Italian style that he composed numerous sonatas and concertos. Once described as the “French Corelli,” his opus 5 is the third of four books of sonatas for violin and basso continuo. Elizabeth Wallfisch, violin, Richard Tunicliffe, cello, and Paul Nicholson, harpsichord perform Leclair’s violin sonata no. 6, op. 5 on the EMI release entitled Baroque Recital.

Barbara Strozzi

Barbara Strozzi was a composer of unusually beautiful works for the voice. Having composed numerous secular songs, she turned to the sacred in her op. 5, published in 1655. Maria Christina Kiehr and Concerto Soave perform Strozzi’s motet “O Maria,” from her op. 5 set of sacred songs on the CD release, Sacri Musicali Affetti.

Marco Ucellini

Another composer of note from the middle of the 17th Century is Marco Ucellini. Published in 1649, his op. 5 is an excellent example of music for violin and basso continuo composed in the popular stylus phantasticus, a style of music composed for two instruments that simulated improvisation. Ensemble Romanesca performs Ucellini’s sonata 12, op. 5 on the Harmonia Mundi release entitled Ucellini: Sonatas.

Willem de Fesch

Willem de Fesch was a Dutchman whose abilities as a composer and violinist led him to settle in London, where he achieved the position of first violin in Handel’s orchestra. His concerti grossi op. 5 are atypical in that he prominently displays a pair of transverse flutes. Musica Ad Rhenum performs Willem de Fesch’s concerto grosso no. 4, op. 5 on the release from NM Classics, Fesch: Vi Concerti Opera Quinta.

Evaristo Felice Dall’Abaco

Evaristo Felice Dall’Abaco was, like de Fesch, a composer and violinist. An Italian by birth, his compositions reflect a more eclectic mix of styles. His op. 5 set of concerti grossi is an ingenious blend of styles both French and Italian. Concerto Köln performs on a Teledec release entitled Evaristo Felice Dall’Abaco: Concerti.

New Release

Our new release this week features the music of Georg Philipp Telemann. His overture in C major for orchestra, entitled “Hamburger Ebb und Flut,” is performed by the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and directed by Georg Kallweit.

Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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