ALESSANDRO SCARLATTI (1660-1725
Flute and Strings Concertos
Old Scarlatti was, for most of his contemporaries, ". . . a great man, and for being so good he manages to be bad, because his compositions are extremely difficult and are things for the chamber, for they do not work in the theater. First of all, whoever understands counterpoint will admire them; but when heard in the theater by a thousand people, only twenty of them understand it; and the others, not hearing something cheerful and theatrical, become bored. Also, since this music is so difficult, the musician, who must pay great attention in order not to make mistakes, has not the liberty to play in his own way, and tires himself excessively. " This was the judgement which the cavaliere Francesco Maria Zambeccari, gentleman in the service of Cardinal Grimani, passed on to his lord following a taxing night at the theater. And the opinion of this modest but well-informed representative of the multitude of "young gentlemen" who populated this affected century was unfortunately echoed by the cultured prince Ferdinando de' Medici, as well as by Burney and other increasingly reliable observers. Thus it would seem that, in the change of styles occurring between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, marked by a decline in baroque tastes (in the original sense of the word: bizarre, complex and astonishing) and the rise of a new-found arcadian cleanness, it was "old Scarlatti" himself who paid the price. He found himself relegated before his time to being considered a venerable antique, a composer to whom one made the obligatory visits of courtesy and testimonies of due respect, but whom fashion obdurately passed over with its usual indelicacy (an indelicacy which would appear again later with Bach's Musikalisches Opfer and Vivaldi's Farnace).