Italian Baroque Christmas
Date & Time
Min-Young Kim concertmaster
Corelli Concerto Grosso in G Minor, Op. 6, No. 8
Manfredini Concerto Grosso in C Major, Op. 3, No. 12
Torelli Concerto a Quattro in G Minor, Op. 8, No. 6
Locatelli Concerto Grosso in F Minor, Op. 1, No. 8
Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Italian Baroque for this candlelit concert of Christmas concertos in the rich acoustic of the historic Church of the Holy Trinity on Rittenhouse Square.
Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square
1904 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Concerto Grosso in G Minor, Op. 6, No. 8
Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
Corelli’s Concerto Grosso in G Minor, Op. 6 No. 8, is appropriately known as the ‘Christmas Concerto’ based off the composer’s inscription: “Fatto per la note di natale” (written for Christmas Eve). Corelli was especially precise in choosing the concertos for his sixth and final opus. This particularity combined with his increasingly poor health resulted in the Christmas Concerto not being published until after Corelli’s death. Although, records show that Corelli was paid for a Christmas Concerto in 1690 and there is a possibility that it was performed the same year. Regardless of when the piece was premiered, the Christmas Concerto is one of Corelli’s most famous works, earning him massive recognition.
The Concerto is written for a concertante comprised of two violins and a cello, paired with a larger tutti ensemble. Corelli used the sonata da chiesa as a foundation while adding his own unconventional touch. The most evident adaption is the fifth movement, but other adjustments to the slow-fast-slow-fast model are also present. A fervent Vivace introduction opens the Grave movement, which is full of harmonics suspensions. More imitative suspensions can be heard in the subsequent Allegro movement, written in binary form. An unexpected Allegro from the first violins can be heard in the middle section of the third, Adagio movement. The short and rapid Vivace movement juxtaposes the finale: the peaceful Pastorale that concludes out the Christmas Concerto.
Concerto Grosso in C Major, Op. 3, No. 12
Francesco Manfredini (1684-1762)
Francesco Manfredini is not often acknowledged alongside other Italian baroque composers. Although his work may not have been innovative, and much of it is presumed to have been destroyed, Manfredini was crucial to the development of the concerto grosso. One of his most famous concertos was the Concerto Grosso in C Major, Op. 3, No.12, also referred to as his ‘Christmas Concerto.’ The first movement of the piece is a siciliano, a tripled metered dance of a slower tempo with dotted rhythms. This may have been intended to illustrate the familiar Christmas story pastoral scene of shepherds keeping watch over their flock by night. This is followed by a peaceful melody in the second, Largo movement, with descending arpeggios in a minor key. The piece segues directly into the third and final, Allegro movement. In the Allegro, the strings are meant to imitate bagpipes underneath the ornamented soloist performance.
Concerto a Quattro in G Minor, Op. 8, No. 6
Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709)
Giuseppe Torelli was an innovator for the concerto form, completing seven sets of chamber and orchestral works during his lifetime. Just before his death, Torelli completed his Opus 8, which contain some of the first concertos featuring a single soloist. It was published in Bologna in 1709 by Torelli’s younger brother. The sixth concerto in the opus 8 is the Concerto in forma di Pastorale per il Santissimo Natale and was written for the celebration of Christmas. The solo group set against the full ensemble in this concerto is comprised of two violins and cello. The piece opens with a reverent Grave section that distinguishes the soloist group from the rest of the ensemble. In the succeeding Largo movement, a solo violin is paired with earnest, pulsating chords. The final movement, Vivace, highlights the influence of Torelli’s Italian culture. The melody sets a backdrop for singing, dancing, and music-making in a local piazza.
Concerto Grosso in F Minor, Op. 1, No. 8
Pietro Antonio Locatelli (1695-1764)
Locatelli was another Italian composer, as well as a violin virtuoso. Though born in Bergamo, Locatelli settled in Amsterdam, where he allegedly developed new effects and techniques on the violin. He is said to have studied under Corelli, and while his works may not have the same polish as his teacher, it is their extreme difficulty that sets them apart. It is before settling in Amsterdam and gaining the title of ‘virtuoso’ that Locatelli debuted as a composer with his first opus of concerto grossi. The Concerto Gross in F Minor, Op. 1, No. 8 may sound familiar to Corelli’s Christmas Concerto. Locatelli uses a similar lavish, somber sound in his opening movements, zeal in his Fugue and elegance in the final Pastorale.
Philadelphia violinist Min-Young Kim enjoys a performing career that highlights her versatility and passion for musical exploration and collaboration. As a founding member and first violinist of the Daedalus Quartet, she performs regularly throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia, and has been presented by many of the world’s leading musical venues including Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress, the Musikverein in Vienna, and the Concertgebeouw in Amsterdam.
Min has performed as a guest leader with both ECCO (East Coast Chamber Orchestra) and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra as well as Orchestra 2001 and the Riverdale Sinfonietta. She has performed at chamber music festivals in Singapore and France and appears annually at festivals across the United States. As a soloist, she has performed with the Boston Pops in Symphony Hall and with the Bard Festival Orchestra, the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra and the Cleveland Institute of Music Orchestra. An advocate for the music of our time, Ms. Kim enjoys working closely with composers and has commissioned and premiered many new works including those of Fred Lerdahl, Anna Weesner, Huck Hodge, and Wolfgang Rihm. She can also be heard on historical violin in the baroque orchestras, Tempesta di Mare and Apollo’s Fire.
In a recent project with the radiant vocal ensemble Variant Six, Min performed the Bach Chaconne with hidden chorales and, inspired by her pandemic hobby of learning the electric guitar, played a six string electric violin with multi effects pedals. She also plays the viola and has been learning the violoncello da spalla, (a mini cello held up against the shoulder with a strap) in her quest to play many strings.
A dedicated teacher, Ms. Kim holds degrees from Harvard, Juilliard and the Cleveland Institute of Music, and currently teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. She taught previously at Princeton University, Columbia University and the School for Strings in New York, and was one of the first recipients of the Morse Fellowship at Juilliard as a teaching artist, integrating engaged listening with classroom curriculum in NYC public schools. Her major teachers include Donald Weilerstein, Robert Mann and Shirley Givens.
Min-Young Kim, Concertmaster
Meichen Liao-Barnes, Associate Concertmaster
Catherine Kei Fukuda, Principal
Mary SangHyun Yong, Principal
Thomas Kraines, Principal
Dan McDougal, Principal
Joyce Chen, Principal