"Batalia" in D major

BATTALIA (Battalia à 10) for strings and bass continuo is notable for its incredibly early introduction of polytonality and the unusual technique of playing col legno (with the wooden part of the bow on the strings). Written in 1673, the work, according to some scholars, may reflect the composer’s attitude to the Thirty Years’ War, which wiped out almost half the population of Germany and a third of the Czechs. In the individual movements, which are scenes in their own right, the composer uses vivid sound effects and adds verbal annotations to the score. For example, the 2nd movement, ‘The dissolute society of common humour’, includes eight melodies in different keys and sizes, among them the folk song ‘Kraut und Rüben haben mich vertrieben’ (‘The cabbage and the turnip have driven me away’). He adds a note in Latin “it’s dissonant everywhere here, because the drunken are so used to roaring different songs”. In ‘March’ the solo violin is accompanied by cellos imitating the sound of a drum with a piece of paper placed between the strings and the fretboard, and in ‘Battle’ the antiphonally alternating pizzicatos in the cellos create the effect of thunders.

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