As part of our Baroque learning experience, we thought it would be a great idea to set up a little chamber group to get used to playing with each other, learning more repertoire, and improving our sense of pitch. Therefore we teamed up with a fellow student, Caitlin, who’s learning baroque cello and got going with some Handel trio sonatas. We’re hoping that one of the students learning harpsichord might be able to play some continuo with us in the near future but it’s obviously very challenging to learn the art of figured bass!
Our first rehearsal was great fun and we spent a long time just tuning our instruments. The violin and cello gut strings are prone to much slipping so we needed frequent tuning breaks! It was good to know that all three of us are at the beginning of our period instrument journies, so there was no pressure to be perfect already as we all have our personal problems to improve on first.
I thought that Handel would be a good place to start because his sonatas are not too virtuosic and he’s a composer we have all played a lot on modern instruments, therefore understanding his musical style. However, the first set of trio sonatas I found and we rehearsed turn out not even to be by Handel! My teacher, Tony Robson, says they’re only attributed to him and don’t show enough Handelian style to be true. How annoying! But they were relatively simple so gave us a chance to improve our ensemble skills.
We then moved on to another Handel sonata, op.2 no.8 recommended by Tony which is undoubtedly by Handel. It’s much more complex harmonically and has beautifully intricate melodies passing between the two instruments. We’re now looking to explore a new composer….any suggestions?