Duo Alter Ego

Eleonora Bišćević, traverso · Arianna Radaelli, spinet

From Duo Alter Ego’s project description:

An Italian Gallery

In the mid-18th century, Great Britain was one of the world’s most important cultural centres: major cities attracted numerous foreign musicians who often settled and worked there. Just think of Handel, Hasse or Porpora, for example, who could assert themselves as first-rate opera composers in London, thanks to support by the Opera of the Nobility or the Royal Academy of Music.

Among those international artists,  Italians were a very well-represented national group: many Italian virtuosos found enthusiastic audiences in Britain with their brilliant playing, and accordingly numerous collections of chamber music were created in the British Isles.

Our project therefore looks at music for traverso and keyboard instrument (be it as continuo or obligato instrument) by Italian composers who were active in Great Britain in the so-called late Baroque period. This is repertoire you could even imagine to have ideally been performed by our line-up in the times of Neil Stewart’s original spinet. It is mainly galant music: repertoire rich in contrast and colours in which a spinet and a traverso feel very much at home.

The influence of the violin and its music is clearly visible in this music, of course, and it had been Italy where an extremely important tradition had begun with Corelli and his pupils.

The rarely performed flute repertoire from that time often came from violinists or consisted partly of adaptations and arrangements of violin music. We have been intensively involved with this approach to the violin: we regularly play music scored for the violin, not only in historical arrangements (we recently recorded Corelli’s sonatas in their historical arrangement), but also in our own arrangements inspired by historical sources, and we explore the relationship between these two instruments.

This relationship is also noticeable in our programme suggestion for this new project. The instrument we would be playing is particularly exciting for us: the sound of a spinet can get even closer to that of the flute than a harpsichord can, and so creates a more intimate atmosphere.

We intended to design our programme to be similar to a gallery of paintings: as a contrasting yet consistent sequence of portraits by different authors.

Concert Programme

Works by Francesco Maria Veracini (1690 – 1768), Giacobbe Basevi “Cervetto” (1680 – 1783), Johann Christian Bach (1735 – 1782), Pietro Castrucci (1679 – 1752) and Francesco Xaverio Geminiani (1687 – 1762).