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A few words from Marilyn Strevens
Sicilian born in 1660, Alessandro Scarlatti was trained in Rome but little is
known of his musical education. He married in 1678 and later that year was
appointed Maestro di Cappella of San Giacomo degli Incurabili. His first
large scale oratorio-operatic compositions were performed there when he
was only 19.
In 1684 at the age of 24 Scarlatti moved to Naples, For the next two
decades over half of the new operas given in Naples we composed by Scarlatti, From 1695
his operas and “musical dramas” incorporated three movement sinfonia which soon became
standard for all Italian operas. The Italian opera overture, or sinfonia, contained most of
the elements of the pre-classical and classical symphonies. The symphony designed for
concert performance may be traced back to the Italian opera overture of Alessandro
Scarlatti. In his later years Scarlatti developed his orchestral writing, expanding the sinfonia
concept with his twelve “Sinfonie di concerto grosso”.
The Six Concertos for String Orchestra and Cembalo were composed so that they could
be performed as string quartets. Scarlatti called them specifically Sonate a quattro and
they are some of the earliest forms of chamber music in this genre. This arrangement
for Clarinet Quartet has been transcribed for 3 Bb clarinets and a Bass Clarinet, with the
option of an Eb clarinet on part one and a Basset Horn on part three for instrumental
colour. The dynamics are suggested by Scarlatti but phrasing and articulations are purely
editorial These concertos were publishes 15 years after the composer’s death. Alessandro’s
son, Domenico’s work had been popularised in London and it has been suggested that the
publisher was “cashing in “ on the Scarlatti name.
Part 1 Clarinet in B flat or Clarinet in E flat
Part 2 Clarinet in B flat
Part 3 Clarinet in B flat or Basset Horn
Part 4 Bass clarinet
Standard: Grade 7 – 8
Length: 6 minutes