Concerto a quattro in forma di pastorale, per il santo natale in G minor, Op 8 No 6
While Valentini’s work of 1701 is an early example of the use of the word ‘symphony’, Giuseppe Torelli (1658–1709) was earlier still in that particular field, producing numerous and often imposing symphonies for use in the San Petronio Cathedral in Bologne well before the turn of the century. Furthermore, he was the first composer to write a concerto for solo violin and string orchestra (published at Augsburg, 1698), and his Concerti Grossi
Op 8, which appeared in print shortly after his death, are the very first concertos for two solo violins. It is the sixth of these that contains the Christmas music.
A solemn ‘Grave’ sets the scene for the Pastorale, marked ‘Vivace’ and cast in 12/8 metre, the two solo violins carrying much of the melodic interest. A meditative Largo leads to another ‘Vivace’ which is a Gavotte en Musette in all but name, its held bass notes strongly suggesting the drone of the shepherds’ pipes.
from notes by Robert Dearling © 1999