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Thursday 5th December

Thursday 5th December

Today we’re focusing on one of our favourite bestsellers - London Pro Musica’s The Baroque Solo Book for Alto Recorder.


This collection includes a wealth of baroque solo repertoire for all levels of players; music which can be revisited and will last you a lifetime! Most of the repertoire was originally for traverso, and has been transposed up a minor 3rd as was the custom at the time.


The entire Select Preludes & Vollentarys for the Flute..., published by John Walsh in 1708 starts off this fantastic title. John Walsh published many books for the recorder, often reworking his publications for other instruments. Here many of the short pieces were published for violin, and are reworked with varying success for the recorder. These can make perfect study pieces, filler pieces and are a good starting point for improvising preludes. This collection is followed by Pieces from the Division Flute (1706), again published by John Walsh. Six preludes are presented from the 2nd Division Flute, which included pieces for solo recorder without a ground bass. The collection moves towards France with Hotteterre's Preludes & Traits from L'art du Preluder (1719). This instruction book mainly consists of preludes and traits in all keys of which the recorder ones have been included in this collection. These short pieces can be perfect introductory pieces in a recital as well as being excellent study material for improvisation and playing French baroque music. One of the biggest collection of solo baroque works for woodwind, originally for the traverso, are Telemann’s 12 Fantasias. Here the fantasias are transposed up a minor 3rd for the alto recorder. The rest of the book as similarly transposed from traverso repertoire. Next the collection returns to France for 18 pieces from Jean Daniel Braun’s Pièces sans Basse (1740). These pieces offer both charming pieces as well as working as great study pieces. Various solo suites can be created from these pieces, with various dance movements to choose from. From France the collection moves towards the court of Frederick the Great for solos from Quantz’s Solos from the Giedde Collection. These galant movements highlight the move towards the rococo style at the infancy of the classical period. These solos are technically challenging, using the full range of the instrument, and are great virtuoso pieces for a performance. One disappointing thing for recorder players is that J.S. Bach didn’t write for solo recorder. Although the recorder obbligato parts in the cantatas and the solos in the Brandenburg Concertos redeems this slightly, no recorder player goes through their studies without playing his Solo Partita originally for flute. This is a work that can be revisited every so often and poses a new challenge each time. As a work to perform in its entirety it is extremely exhausting but hugely rewarding. The Baroque Solo Book ends with a contrasting Sonata (1763) by C.P.E. Bach. Arguably this is slightly later than the baroque period but finishes off the collection nicely. The first movement is very forward looking to the progression of music, with the second and third more rooted in baroque style.

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