Vivaldi: Gods, Emperors and Angels

Sunday, July 18, 2010

It’s an old gibe that the prolific Vivaldi wrote the same concerto 500 times. And yet, as more of his music enters the mainstream repertoire, it’s becoming increasingly clear just what an outstanding body of work was waiting to be uncovered. Adrian Chandler and the English period-instrument ensemble La Serenissima bring a fresh batch of Vivaldi to our attention in Gods, Emperors and Angels. It’s this week’s Full Rotation.

La Serenissima, named after the city in which he held a teaching post at the Pieta, or orphanage, specializes in the music of Vivaldi and his Italian contemporaries. For over a decade, the ensemble has been demonstrating that there's more to the composer than The Four Seasons. The title of this collection refers to Vivaldi’s remarkable roster of patrons--"nine Highnesses", he proudly noted in a letter--for whom the various concertos here were written. The "angels" were the performers at the orphanage who premiered much of his music.

Opening the album is the fascinating Concerto Conca, RV163, its name referring to the conch shell that in Vivaldi’s time, sailors used as a foghorn and which was believed to have the power to ward off impending storms. The turbulent character of this short three-movement piece seems wholly appropriate. Wind instruments take center stage elsewhere. There's the Concerto in A minor for sopranino recorder, given a virtuosic performance by Pamela Thorby. Peter Whalen is the soloist in an elegant performance of the bassoon concerto, RV500. Both of these players match persuasively in the Sonata for recorder and bassoon, RV 86.

Chandler himself is the dynamic soloist in the Violin Concerto "L’Amoroso," and even in this, one of the more conventional works on the album, the ensemble plays Vivaldi as vividly and freely as jazz.

Antonio Vivaldi: Gods, Emperors and Angels

La Serenissima / Adrian Chandler, violin, director


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Comments [3]

Kenneth Bennett Lane from Lake Hiawatha, NJ

Let us remember that Antonio Vivaldi and Corelli and Johann Sebastian Bach composed using goose quill pens, compounded by the added nocturnal difficulty of composing at night under candle-flickering light and their achievements, in the sheer quantity of their output, is astounding !!!
.Kenneth Bennett Lane, Wagnerian heldentenor, opera composer & director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute. Website:

Jul. 22 2010 06:06 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane from Lake Hiawatha, NJ

ANTONIO VIVALDI lived to age 65 and died in 1743. Besides his violin virtuosity he was a composer who advanced the development, the significance of the concerto form, beyond what Corelli had done, to hand over the "baton" to an even greater composer, his contemporary, Johann Sebastian Bach, who in 1717 composed his Concerto inD minor for 2 violins and orchestra. Different formats, different styles and different objectives, but those 3 composers merit larger audiences for their elegant, ethereal, harmoniously majestic transcendental music that uplifts by its beauty.

Jul. 19 2010 07:00 PM
alan from La Serenissima

In what is a nice symmetry, I just finished a day of drawing and painting in Venice. I returned to my residence and went to on my laptop. I am now listening to this wonderful concerto from La Cetra. Yes, Vivaldi is performed in concerts here almost everyday. I was fortunate to hear a beautiful Vivaldi cantata on the radio here yesterday. I don't know his cantatas but this one was beautiful. I wish you would play some.

Jul. 19 2010 04:03 PM

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