XII Concertos in eight parts
(Rev.Antonio Frigé, Intr. Alessandro Borin) DVPF 20320 184 Pages Baroque
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(bap. Chelsea, London, 9 Oct 1690; d Chelsea, 10 April 1728). English composer and woodwind player. His parents ran a school for girls in Chelsea. The engraver George Vertue, who knew him, wrote that Woodcock had ‘a place or clerkship in the Government’ until about 1725, leaving to devote himself to marine painting, and that he was ‘very skillful in music, had judgement and performed on the hautboy in a masterly manner’. Hawkins called Woodcock ‘a famous performer on the flute [i.e. recorder]’, but he was more likely an enthusiastic amateur on the oboe, recorder and flute. He died of gout, leaving his family in penury.
In 1720 Woodcock set Newburgh Hamilton’s St Cecilia’s day ode, The Power of Musick (London, music lost). His only surviving compositions are a set of XII Concertos in Eight Parts (London, 1727), three for sixth flute (descant recorder in d”), three for two sixth flutes, three for flute and three for oboe; nine have no violas among the strings. They are of historical importance as the first flute concertos ever published and the first oboe concertos published by an English composer. Nos.1–4 and 6–8 are essentially Venetian in conception, with the fast–slow–fast sequence of movements; the main influences are Vivaldi and Albinoni. The first-movement ritornellos generally include attractive, well-contrasted and balanced phrases, but the passage-work in the episodes is routine and largely scalar. The slow movements are dances (sicilianas and sarabands) or Handelian adagios, and the finales are simple dances or binary movements with regular phrases echoed as variations. Nos.5 and 9–12 are melodically more Handelian and more varied in construction, variously avoiding or obscuring the ritornello principle, having four movements (slow–fast–slow–fast), or incorporating viola parts; three manuscript sources (D-HRD Fü 3625a; D-SWl 2436; S-Uu ihs19:24) attribute no.12 to Handel, under whose name it has been published (Braunschweig, 1935). A similar Venetian-Handelian split is evident in Babell’s recorder concertos. Woodcock’s no.11 is a concerto grosso in which the oboe mainly doubles the violins. There is no support for Priestman’s allegation that Woodcock may have stolen one or more of the concertos.