ANTONIO VIVALDI celebrated scorned loved hated. An excellent joueur de violon et compositeur mediocre was the description of his fellow-Venetian, the playwright Carlo Goldoni; and one Uffenbach must have been overwhelmed when he heard the maestro himself play a fantasy (i.e. a cadenza) which really terrified me, for such has not been nor can ever be played: he came with his fingers within a mere grass-stalks breadth of the bridge, so that the bow had no roomand this on all four string with imitation and at incredible speed. He was a controversial figure; many found his concerti wild and disorderly; in contrast others found them written on the contrary, in too simple and conventional a style (Johann Joachim Quantz). Whatever the final judgment might be, Vivaldi was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century after 100 years of oblivion.
One important reason for this was the discovery that J.S. Bach, who had always remained popular, had copied many of Vivaldis works, primarily in order to study them and later on to make respectful use of their material in transcriptions or arrangements. It must be established here that Vivaldi composed in a manner which, rather than conventional and easy-going, was on the contrary extremely inventive and varied. Even in his apparently simple and conventional works, the listener can enjoy the numerous subtle formal quirks and the constantly unpredictable asymmetries, e.g. in the phrasing of independent parts.
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