Vivaldi: A Tale Of Two Seasons - Concertos & Arias
VIVALDI L’Incoronazione di Dario , RV 719: Sinfonia; Ferri, ceppi, sangue, morte; Sentiro fra ramo. Arsilda, RV 700: Io sento in questo seno. Motezuma, RV 723: Quel rossor, ch’in volto miri; In mezzo alla procella. Violin Concertos: in D, RV 208, “Grosso Mogul”; in B?, RV 367; in C, RV 191 • Adrian Chandler (vn, cond); Sally Bruce-Payne (mez); La Serenissima (period instruments) • AVIE 2287 (76:16 Text and Translation)
Avie’s release of a program of Vivaldi’s music bears the subtitle “A Tale of Two Seasons,” with the two seasons represented by concertos and arias from 1717 and 1733. Adrian Chandler’s thorough and perceptive booklet notes give an account of the music, the culture that gave rise to it, and the changes the intervening 16 years wrought on Vivaldi’s style in both opera and concerto.
The program opens with the brief Sinfonia from L’Incoronazione di Dario , with the first movement exuding the ensemble’s crisp energy, the second comprising a flowing Andante , and the third, Presto , exhibiting chunky élan in this reading (Chandler notes that the designation refers to the movement’s “verve” rather than its speed). For the program, Chandler and the ensemble have adopted A = 440, representing then Venice’s higher pitch.
Chandler notes that Vivaldi’s arias from the early years don’t usually last as long as those from his later periods. Accordingly, the three from the 1717 portion of the program occupy only about 12 minutes in total. Sally Bruce-Payne appears as the mellifluous but dramatic soloist in the two arias from L’Incoronazione di Dario , (the vigorous Ferri, ceppi, sangue, morte and Sentiro fra ramo , the latter featuring dialogues with a solo violin and with strings), sandwiching in between the alternately flowing (voice) and agitated (orchestra) aria Io sento in questo seno from Arsilda.
The first “season” closes with the familiar Concerto, “Grosso Mogul,” which Chandler suggests had been written for performance during an opera on the subject of India’s Mogul. Chandler, playing a violin made in 1981, “after Amati,” by Rowland Ross, brings a flash of virtuosity to the solo part—especially the stunning extended cadenzas of the first and third movements, which he adapted mostly from a German source—in his view the unadulterated form of the work—as well as from Vivaldi’s manuscript.
To open the second “season,” Chandler plays a Violin Concerto (RV 367) that he identifies as a theatrical work written in the 1730s (and gives his reasons for believing so, in view of the general difficulty of dating Vivaldi’s concertos). Chandler also notes that by the 1730s, Vivaldi gave greater prominence to the solos, reducing the length of the ritornellos. In the first movement of RV 367, Chandler takes advantage not only of the flowing melody of the tuttis, but also of some dialogue between the upper parts and the bass as well.
The arias—for this season, “Quel rossor, ch’in volto miri” and the exciting and considerably more agitated “In mezzo alla procella,” making reference to a storm at sea, with both calling forth thrillingly dramatic readings from Sally Bruce-Payne—come from Motezuma , written, according to Chandler, for Angiola Zanucchi in the role of Ramiro, brother of Fernando, general of the Spanish army.
The Violin Concerto, RV 191, brings the program to a close. Similarities exist between this work and the Concerto, RV 367—a sort of melodiousness coupled with high-octane virtuosity, and Chandler effectively combines these manners. He notes that Vivaldi by this time had expanded his repertoire of bowings, and these surpass in their variety those found in more familiar works, like those in op. 8 from 1725. The Finale displays a wider range of rhythmic motives than many listeners may associate with Vivaldi, which also provides a strong contrast with his earlier works. Giuliano Carmignola and Andrea Marcon included this Concerto in a collection of Vivaldi’s late concertos with the Venice Baroque Orchestra (Sony 89362, Fanfare 25:2). Both ensembles play with electrifying crisp energy, but Chandler brings out the passagework’s lyricism; Carmignola, hissing and spitting, trains a laser to reflect its diamond-like brilliance.
La Serenissima gives in this program a fuller representation of Vivaldi as a musician and composer than could any that focused exclusively on his vocal or instrumental works. It should appeal to specialists and, because of its combination of breadth and focus, also to more general listeners. Very strongly recommended to all sorts of collectors.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Catalog Number: AV2287
Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
Conductor: Adrian Chandler
Orchestra/Ensemble: La Serenissima (Orchestra)
Performer: Adrian Chandler, Sally Bruce-Payne