Trio Sonata: La Raspona
Giovanni Legrenzi (1626-1690)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 5 Tracks 26-27
Fearless Legrenzi sends his joyful violin players into happy competition. The seventeenth century tangle of two violins that is La Raspona
reminds me of the thirteenth century tangle of three tenors that is Sederunt
. The violins have chords to play with (leaps and showy arpeggios) where the ancient singers contented themselves with melodic intrigue. However, in both pieces it is the combination of voices that holds the listener on the edge of his or her seat. As we may recall, Perotin balanced this complexity with an unmoving bass part. Here, of course, the continuo keeps the two violins from getting lost.
In spite of the score's division into two parts, Allegro (track 26) and Adagio (track 27), the narration comes across more as a palindrome. The Allegro slows down into the Adagio and the Adagio speeds up into the conclusion.
What I like about Giovanni's echoing chamber piece is the beginning of the Adagio. For a mere two bars, the violins take on a very operatic style. After this, we gradually return to the competitive voice exchanges of the opening. It is as if, after grabbing our attention, Legrenzi slowed the music down to insure that we appreciated each violin fully.