Quartetto Paradiso

www.viaparadiso.org





Quartetto Paradiso is a group of amateur musicians who enjoy the music of the 17th and 18th centuries. We are devoted to playing music that was written over 200 years ago by now-dead white european men. (OK, so "now-dead" and "200 years ago" is redundant.)




We play at A415, not because it's fashionable, but because A415 instruments (particularly alto recorders) have a mellow tone that is nicer than those a half-tone up at A440. Our repertoire emphasizes the baroque, early classical, and modern.




For the February 17, 2008 concert at Foothill Presbyterian Church in San Jose, California, we chose the Handel Trio Sonata in F for 2 alto recorders, viola da gamba and harpsichord, because it's such a blast to play. Here are the four movements:

I. Adagio

II. Allegro

III. Affettuoso

IV. Vivace



For the March 1, 2009 concert at Foothill Presbyterian Church in San Jose, California, we played the Glen Shannon Trio Sonata No. 1 in d minor for 2 alto recorders, viola da gamba and harpsichord.

This is a beautiful piece in 4 movements. We found the first movement to be the most difficult to play in an interesting and appealing way. The second movement is a lively fugue in the inimitable Shannon style. The third movement is a lyrical andante, and the fourth is a rollicking allegro in the 6/8 style beloved by baroque composers. Here are the four movements:

I. Adagio

II. Allegro

III. Andante

IV. Allegro



Also at the March 1, 2009 concert at Foothill Presbyterian Church in San Jose, California, Tetratoot, which is a remix of the recorder players in Quartetto Paradiso, played the world premiere of Glen Shannon's "The Bloomberg Codex" for recorder quartet. Featured in the performance are Glen Shannon (himself) on bass and Mark McMahon, who plays the wild solo on soprano in the second movement.

The piece is played entirely in swing style, and is a (tetra)hoot to play. There are three movements. The first, "Aria", alternates between the parts playing in synchrony and going off in little riffs. The second movement, "Recitative", is a soulful solo for the soprano. The third movement is the fugue (there's always a fugue), and although everyone shares with the theme, they mostly share the fugue theme with the tenor, which gets the lion's share. One caution for musicians: these themes are so catchy that you'll find them playing in loops in your head for days.

I. Aria

II. Recitative

III. Fugue

This piece was subsequently recorded in a fine recording session, with professionals Vicky Boeckman and Frances Feldon joining Glen and Mark:

I. Aria

II. Recitative

III. Fugue



For the May 23, 2010 concert at Foothill Presbyterian Church in San Jose, California, we played the Trio Sonata in Imitation of Birds by William Williams ("Bill Bill"), for 2 alto recorders, viola da gamba and harpsichord.

This is one of only a very few pieces that Williams composed. It is very much in the tradition of English baroque music, and as the title implies, gives the performers a number of chances to make birdlike trills, chirps and squawks. Lightweight and melodic. You may notice that we took the short fourth movement at a relaxed, lyrical pace. The movements are Adagio, Allegro, Grave, Allegro.

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For the March 5, 2011 concert at Foothill Presbyterian Church in San Jose, California, we played the Christoph Schaffrath Trio in C Major, for 2 alto recorders, viola da gamba and harpsichord.

Schaffrath (1709 - 1763) composed in a transitional style between the high baroque and the classical, that is sometimes called "roccoco". It has three movements: Adagio, Allegro and Vivace. We added a fourth movement, a musical joke played on the audience, that we called "Allegro Irlandese".

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For the March 24, 2012 concert at Foothill Presbyterian Church in San Jose, California, we played the Dornel Suite in d minor, for 2 alto recorders, viola da gamba and harpsichord.

Louis-Antoine Dornel (ca. 1685 - 1765) was a French composer who lived in Paris. Not being a court composer, he wrote for the aristocracy. Relatively little survives of his compositions, which we found original and enjoyable, in spite of being highly mannered in the style of the period. The Suite has 7 movements, all with French names as one might expect.

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At the same concert, the group Quintessence (with Juliette Faraco, Dan Chernikov and Christopher Flake) performed a version of Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite that was arranged for 5 recorders by Stanley Taylor. This works very well on recorder quintet. We switched instruments between movements, and in playing the six movements of the suite, we all managed to play most of the different recorders (from sopranino to bass).

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For the March 9, 2013 concert at Foothill Presbyterian Church in San Jose, California, we played the J. S. Bach Trio Sonata in F, BWV 1028, for 2 alto recorders, viola da gamba and harpsichord.

This is our favorite of the very nice Bach trio sonatas. It has four movements: Adagio, Allegro, Andante, Allegro. Our approach to the work is moderation: not too slow in the slow movements (for example, performances by string players tend to drag, but wind players need to breathe) and not too fast in the fast movements, which have plenty of intrinsic momentum. The last movement has an unusual, cadenza-like section of modulating arpeggios near the end.

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Yellowstone Suite by Nancy Bloomer Deussen, for soprano and alto recorders, viola da gamba and harpsichord.

Pat Marion approached San Francisco Bay Area composer Nancy Bloomer Deussen with a request to compose something for our quartet, and Nancy wrote the Yellowstone Suite. Although Nancy is a prolific composer, this is the first piece she has written for viola da gamba in an ensemble. It was quite a challenge for us, and we had a lot of fun working it up. It was recorded in June, 2014. Deb Soule made the slide-show, which perfectly captures the feeling of the piece visually.

There are three movements. Daybreak at Hayden Valley, The Yellowstone River (which reminds some of us of Smetana's Moldau), and Playful Pelicans.

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For the February 28, 2015 concert at Westminister Presybterian Church in San Jose, California, Dan Bloomberg played Wat zalmen op den Avond doen by Jacob van Eyck, for solo recorder.

This is from van Eyck's Der Fluyten Lusthof, a large collection from the 1640s of variations on tunes for solo recorder. It was played on a Ganassi alto recorder in g, made by Peter van der Poel. The slide-show of Dutch paintings was composed with the audio by Deb Soule. You can hear hail rattling the church windows at the beginning of the piece!

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Concerts with Recorder Journey

April 18, 2010:
Recorder Journey and Quartetto Paradiso, at Ladera Community Church, 3300 Alpine Rd, Portola Valley. We played music from the middle ages to modern, including works by Handel, Legrenzi, J.S. Bach and Monteverdi, Ole Buck and Sylvia Rosen.

May 30, 2010:
Recorder Journey and Quartetto Paradiso, in the Sierra Room of the Forum, at Rancho San Antonio Retirement, 23600 Vía Esplendor, Cupertino, CA. This is mostly a repeat of the April 18, 2010 concert. Quartetto Paradiso will substitute the "Bill Bill" trio sonata for the Bach.