Our music for this week is the Christmas Concerto by Archangelo Corelli. You may have expected me to send out the “Hallelujah” Chorus from Handel’s Messiah, but the Messiah is not actually Christmas music. That famous chorus is actually an Easter composition. This concerto by Corelli, however, was written for the Christmas season and should be a Christmas-time staple for all of us.
It is interesting to note that this concerto broke from the tradition of Corelli’s era, which was predominantly based on small ensembles with four movements in a concerto. Corelli expanded the number of instruments involved, added two movements, and even threw in a very unusual 12/8 meter for the last movement. The movements rotate back and forth between relaxed adagios and active allegros, and Corelli never fails (in true violinist fashion) to feature plenty of solo lines for the first violinist. The movement to pay special attention to is the last movement, the Pastorale. Many critics consider this movement to be the most famous and beautiful of all Corelli’s compositions, and I am inclined to agree. It is one of the most serene and welcoming pieces I’ve played; it emanates gratitude and peace.
Enjoy and Merry Christmas!