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The trio sonata is a genre, typically consisting of three or four movements with contrasting two melody instruments and a continuo. Originating in the early seventeenth-century, the trio sonata was a favorite chamber ensemble combination in the Baroque era.

Contents

Basic StructureEdit

The trio sonata typically consisted of three parts, two violins and a continuo (Boer 2012, 466). However, the two violins could be substituted for pairs of flutes, recorders, or oboes. The second part, the basso continuo, has two parts. First, it includes the bass line, which most commonly was provided with a bass viol, violone, violoncello, or bassoon. Second, it includes a harmony-producing instrument, such as a small organ, a harpsichord, or a theorbo. The (basso) continuo could be performed by two or more performers; a cellist to play the bass line and a harpsichordist or organist to focus on the harmonies. Because there could be two people playing the continuo part, there could be as many as four players playing. This can be misleading to some as the “trio” of the trio sonata refers to the three parts and not the number of players. Sonatas could be placed into two categories: sonata da camera (chamber sonata) and sonata da chiesa (church sonata). The chamber sonata was considered a group of stylized dances and church sonatas were much more serious and typically arranged into a slow-fast-slow-fast sequence (Vetter n.d.).

Composers, compositions and variant formatsEdit

Arcangelo CorelliEdit

Italian composer Arcangelo Corelli was one of most influential composers of the trio sonata. The published trio sonatas by Corelli are (Deas 1953, 6):

An additional collection of Trio Sonatas, for two violins, cello, and organ, was published as "Op. post." in Amsterdam, in 1714 (Talbot 2001b). Corelli's trios would serve as models for other composers well into the 18th century (Mattheson 1739, 345: §8).

Johann Sebastian BachEdit

German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, is another notable composer of the trio sonata, but he was known for shying away from the traditional structure of the sonata. He typically played the three parts with less than three instruments. An example of this is one part would be played by the violin and the other two parts could be played by a keyboard. He also experimented with playing all three parts on the organ. An example of this is Bach's Trio Sonata for organ, BMV 525-530 (Britannica 2007).

Other trio sonatas by Bach include:

Other composersEdit

  • Tomaso Albinoni, 12 sonatas da chiesa Op. 1, twelve balletti a tre Op. 3, twelve Trattenimenti armonici per camera, for violin, viola, and continuo, Op.6, six sonatas da camera as part of Op. 8, six unpublished trio sonatas Op. 11, and a further six trio sonatas without opus number in a manuscript in Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Musiksammlung (Talbot 2001a).
  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach wrote at least 44 trio sonatas, including one for flute, viola, and piano, said to have been given its world premiere by the Society for Forgotten Music at the New York Public Library on 30 January 1949 (Anon. 1949). His best-known work in the genre is the programmatic Trio ("Sanguineus und Melancholicus"), in C minor, composed in 1749 and published in Nuremberg in 1751, which exists in two versions: one for obbligato keyboard and violin, the other for two violins and continuo (Wolff and Leisinger 2001).
  • William Boyce, 12 Trio Sonatas for two violins and continuo (1747) (Boyce 1747)
  • Dieterich Buxtehude, Op. 1, six sonatas, and Op. 2, seven sonatas, scored for violin, viola da gamba and basso continuo. These were the only works by Buxtehude that were published during his lifetime. Though real trio texture does occur from time to time, these are really sonate a due for violin and viola da gamba, with the continuo often being a simplification of the gamba part. There are however four genuine trio sonatas by Buxtehude surviving in manuscript, two for two violins, viola da gamba and continuo in C and G major (BuxWV 266 and 271), one for two violins and continuo in F major (BuxWV 270, fragmentary), and one for viola da gamba, viola, and continuo in D major (BuxWV 267) (Snyder 2001).
  • François Couperin published a number of trio sonatas: Le Parnasse, ou L’apothéose de Corelli, grande sonade en trio, for two violins and continuo (Paris, 1724); Concert instrumental sous le titre d’Apothéose composé à la mémoire immortelle de l’incomparable Monsieur de Lully, for two violins (two flutes, or other unspecified instruments), and continuo (Paris, 1725); and the collection Les nations: sonades et suites de simphonies en trio, for two violins and continuo (Paris, 1726), consisting of La Françoise [La pucelle], L’Espagnole [La visionnaire], L’impériale, and La Piemontoise [L’astrée]. In addition, two trio sonatas have survived in manuscript: La Steinquerque and La superbe, both for two violins and continuo (Higginbottom 2001).
  • Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, a student of J.S. Bach, composed five trio sonatas for 2 violins and continuo.
  • George Frideric Handel, trio sonatas Opp. 2 and 5, all in sonata da chiesa form. The attribution to Handel of a set of trios for two oboes and continuo is false, and the authenticity of the three trios HWV 393, 394, and 395 is doubtful or uncertain. A trio sonata in F for two recorders and continuo, HWV 405, appears to be authentic (Hicks 2001).
  • Jacques-Martin Hotteterre, Sonates en trio pour les flûtes traversières et a bec, violon, hautbois, Op. 3 (1712) (Giannini 2001)
  • Pietro Antonio Locatelli, six Trio Sonatas, Op. 5, for two violins or two traversos and continuo (1736) (Locatelli 1736)
  • Johann Pachelbel, Musikalische Ergötzung ("Musical Delight"), containing six suites for two violins and basso continuo, each commencing with a sonata, followed by a succession of dances. The violin parts use scordatura tuning. The sonatas are of two types. Nos. 1 and 3 are marked Allegro, and are fughettas. The remaining four are Adagio movements and are similar to French overtures, in two sections (Nolte, Butt, and Butler 2001).
  • Henry Purcell, Twelve sonatas of three parts, 1683, ten sonatas in four parts, 1697, but both sets are scored for two violins, bass viol, and organ or harpsichord. In terms of style, Purcell's trio sonatas are conservative, modeled on the older generation of Italians (Giovanni Legrenzi, Lelio Colista, and Giovanni Battista Vitali) rather than Corelli or Giovanni Battista Bassani (Holman, Thompson, and Humphreys 2001).
  • Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel, over 25 extant trio sonatas, including two for solo organ. Others for continuo (sometimes indicated as harpsichord) and diverse combinations of flute(s), violin(s), oboes or unspecified instruments (Stölzel & c.1750; Stölzel & c.1720–50; Stölzel & c.1740; Stölzel & c.1760a; Stölzel & c.1760b Stölzel & c.1770; Stölzel n.d.; Stölzel & c.1700–1799a; Stölzel & c.1700–1799b)
  • Georg Philipp Telemann, around 150 trio sonatas (Anon. n.d.). The earliest sonatas exhibit the Corelli style most clearly, while later works anticipate the mid-century Empfindsamkeit and galant styles, or mix Italian, French, and Polish styles (Zohn 2001).
  • Antonio Vivaldi, 12 trio sonatas da camera Op. 1, two trio sonatas mixed with solo sonatas in Op. 5, and thirteen unpublished trios. One further trio sonata, RV 80, in G major, for two flutes and continuo, is attributed to Vivaldi but is probably spurious (Talbot 2001c).
  • Jan Dismas Zelenka, six sonatas [scores], ZWV 181, composed around 1721–1722 (Zelenka & [1721–22]).

ReferencesEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Allsop, Peter. 1992. The Italian "Trio" Sonata: From Its Origins until Corelli. Oxford Monographs on Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816229-4.
  • Apel, Willi. 1990. Italian Violin Music of the Seventeenth Century, edited by Thomas Binkley. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-30683-3.
  • Defant, Christine. 1985. Kammermusik und Stylus phantasticus: Studien zu Dietrich Buxtehudes Triosonaten. Europäische Hochschulschriften / European University Studies / Études Universitaires Européennes. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. ISBN 9783820485141.
  • Hogwood, Christopher. 1979. The Trio Sonata. BBC Music Guides. London: British Broadcasting Corporation. ISBN 0-563-17095-6.
  • Kamien, Roger. 2008. Music an Appreciation, sixth brief edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0073326375 (annotated instructor's edition); ISBN 9780073265452 (student edition)
  • Schenk, Erich. 2005. Die Triosonate. Das Musikwerk, eine Beispielsammlung zur Musikgeschichte, Neuausgabe 20. Laaber: Laaber Verlag. ISBN 3-89007-623-8.