concerto(redirected from concertos)
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See A. Veinus, The Concerto (rev. ed. 1964); D. F. Tovey, Essays in Musical Analysis: Concertos (1936, repr. 1972).
a musical work in which a small body of participating instruments or voices is contrasted with a greater body or with the entire ensemble, with the smaller group set off for the sake of thematic relief of the musical material, tonal color, and the use of all the possibilities of the instruments or voices. Concerti for solo instrument and orchestra are most common. Less frequently encountered are works for two, three, or four instruments and orchestra. Among the special types of concerti are the concerto grosso, the symphony concertante, the concerto for one instrument (without orchestra), the concerto for voice (voices) and orchestra, and the concerto for a cappella choir. Typical features of the concerto are a brilliant, virtuosic solo part and contrast between the solo and orchestral parts.
The polyphonic vocal-instrumental concerto emerged in Italy at the turn of the 17th century. Seventeenth-century Italy was also the birthplace of the instrumental concerto, to whose development the 18th-century composers A. Vivaldi and J. S. Bach made an important contribution.
The classical instrumental concerto took shape in the creative work of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. It is a three-movement cycle which, unlike the usual sonata or symphonic cycle, lacks a scherzo (minuet). The first movement uses a double exposition, in which the themes are stated first by the orchestra and then by the soloist accompanied by the orchestra. After the recapitulation in the first movement (and sometimes in the third, as well) there is a virtuosic cadenza.
In his concerti Beethoven combined a virtuosic solo part, profound music, and a genuinely symphonic development. (He composed five concerti for piano and orchestra, one concerto for violin and orchestra, and a “triple” concerto for piano, violin, and cello with orchestra.) Later, two types of concerti were designated: the virtuoso concerto, in which instrumental concertizing prevails, and the “symphonic” concerto, which is dominated by a symphonic development.
In the 19th and 20th centuries concerti consisting of two, four, or five movements have been composed, as well as the more traditional three-movement ones. In addition, composers turned to one-movement concerti—the small form (Konzertstück; concertino), a more developed form similar to the symphonic poem (created by F. Liszt, who wrote two concerti for piano and orchestra). Striking examples of the piano concerto were composed by R. Schumann, F. Chopin, J. Brahms, and E. Grieg. N. Paganini, F. Mendelssohn, and Brahms wrote outstanding violin concerti, and A. Dvorak composed a brilliant cello concerto. There are also concerti for flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, and other instruments.
The Russian composers P. I. Tchaikovsky and S. V. Rachmaninoff created outstanding concerti. A number of concerti by Soviet composers, including S. S. Prokofiev, A. I. Khachaturian, D. B. Kabalevskii, D. D. Shostakovich, and R. M.Glière, have won international recognition. Soviet composers have laid the foundation for new varieties of the concerto by creating a number of concerti for folk instruments, such as the balalaika and domra.
REFERENCESOrlov, G. A. Sovetskii fortepiannyi kontsert. Leningrad, 1954.
Khokhlov, Iu. Sovetskii skripichnyi kontsert. Moscow, 1956.
Raaben, L. Sovetskii instrumental’nyi kontsert. Leningrad, 1967.
Schering, A. Geschichte des Instrumentalkonzerts bis aufdie Gegenwart, 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1927.
L. N. RAABEN