Concerto for Flute in D, op. 10 no. 3 “Goldfinch”
flute, strings, continuo
Vivaldi’s Concerto for Flute in D, the “Goldfinch,” is not the only one of the six concerti in Opus 10 that has a nickname, but it is definitely the most aptly named. It is impossible to miss the reference to the songbird when the first movement opens with a twittering cadenza for the solo flute, rather than saving this virtuoso moment for the end. After this unconventional start, the soloist strikes up a dialogue with the violins, the effect of which sounds very much like a garden full of finches. The second movement offers a brief lull, with a more lyrical melody for the solo flute, accompanied only by the basso continuo cello and harpsichord. For the finale, we return to the blistering solo figuration, built out of sequences of simple calls, which both conjure the goldfinch’s repetitive vocalizations and allow Vivaldi to lead his audience along a clear harmonic path. Like most of his concerti, the “Goldfinch” was written for the orphaned girls who were his students at the Ospedale della Pietá in Venice, and so it makes space for one of his advanced pupils to demonstrate skill and grace, while also allowing others to participate in the alternating ritornello sections for the orchestra.
- Katherine Baber