Bernardo Pasquini

May 31, 2016

This weekend Consortium Carissimi presents an opera by Bernardo Pasquini (1637-1710) entitled La Sincerità con la Sincerità - or Il Tirinto (1672) - June 3, 4, and 5.

 

Pasquini was an Italian composer of large scale vocal works, such as operas, oratorios, and cantatas, but also wrote some 200 works of keyboard music. A renowned virtuoso keyboard player in his day, he was one of the most important Italian composers for harpsichord between Girolamo Frescobaldi and Domenico Scarlatti. Pasquini was born at Massa in Val di Nievole (today Massa e Cozzile), Tuscany. He was a pupil of Mariotto Bocciantini in Uzzano. Around 1650 he moved to Ferrara with his uncle Giovanni Pasquini. In 1654–55 he became organist of Accademia della Morte in 1654-55, and later moved to Rome. In 1657 he became organist of Santa Maria in Vallicella, and in November of that year entered the service of Prince Borghese. After seven years he was appointed organist of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and Santa Maria in Aracoeli. As a composer and keyboard player, he collaborated to the music performances patronized by some of the most famous patrons in Rome, such as cardinals Benedetto Pamphilj, Pietro Ottoboni, and Flavio Chigi, in whose palace the opera Il Tirinto was performed in October of 1672. It was in honor of Queen Christina of Sweden his operas L'Alcasta and Il Lisimaco were performed in 1673 and 1681, respectively. Together with Arcangelo Corelli and Alessandro Scarlatti, Pasquini was named a member of the prestigious Academy of Arcadia in 1706.

 

Music in the 17th century underwent a radical change with the introduction of basso continuo, which Pasquini incorporated into his keyboard writing. Some 314 verses and 28 sonatas for basso continuo - including fourteen sonatas for two basso continuo instruments - bear the hallmarks of the partimento teaching technique, which involves a kind of dialogue between teacher and student, in which both players "compose" the treble part over a written-out bass part, sometimes with fugal subjects supplied, and example of which you can watch below.

 

The sonatas include the fashionable styles of keyboard music of the time, such as the Allegro da concerto, Adagio, Fugue, Corrente and Gavotte. Pasquini’s compositions for keyboard cover all the main genres of his time, embracing some 17 dance suites (although the term suite is not used in the manuscripts) as well as single movements, 14 variations on both self-composed arias and basses, four passacaglias, sonatas, over 30 toccatas and tastatas, about a dozen contrapuntal works, and a large number of versets.

 

Pasquini died at Rome, and was buried in the church of San Lorenzo in Lucina. One of his harpsichord pieces was transcribed for orchestra by Ottorino Respighi for his suite Gli uccelli.

 

 

 

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