A Vivaldi Concert
- CDR 90000 025
Album Description Download Full CD Booklet
When people think of Vivaldi, they think of concertos, which represent only about half of his nearly 800 compositions. Vocal music? Mostly forgotten. Vivaldi recordings, though voluminous, comprise many predictable collections of similar works -- flute concertos, violin concerto, and so forth.
A Vivaldi Concert, performed by the Chicago Baroque Ensemble with guest artist Patrice Michaels, soprano, opens a unique vista on the Venetian composer. It's an invigoratingly diverse program of Vivaldi's vocal and instrumental works, none of them over-recorded.
"We looked at all approaches to programming Vivaldi on disc and took the one less traveled by," said Cedille producer James Ginsburg, paraphrasing a Robert Frost poem, "And that makes all the difference." The program of motets, concertos, cantatas and sonata unfolds through a symmetrical sequence of varied musical textures, moods, and instrumentation for and entertaining (and generous) 78-plus minutes of music.
This variety is a truer reflection of what a concert in Vivaldi's day would have sounded like -- and how the Chicago Baroque Ensemble programs its concerts -- compared to today's typically homogeneous concert programs, according to the ensemble's artistic director John Mark Rozendaal, who also wrote the CD booklet notes.
Variety was the goal even among the selection of vocal pieces; the sacred motets exhibit a relatively simple vocal style, while the cantatas on the theme of romantic love allow for a more freely expressive vocalism. The first motet is characterized by a pure, angelic soprano sound, while the second is darker, moodier.
The first cantata, "All'ombra di sospetto," RV178, features flute while the second cantata, "Lungi dal vago volto," RV680, features violin. For further variety, keyboardist David Schrader plays chamber organ rather than harpsichord in the motets, which were intended for church performances.
Rozendaal's notes set the stage by depicting the artistic vitality of 17th-century Venice in modern terms: the city was "the Hollywood of Europe, the center of a powerful entertainment industry and a playground for the continent's beautiful people." Music-making was everywhere -- "in the churches, the opera houses, the palaces of the ambassadors, in the streets and canals." And one of the key power-lunchers was Vivaldi, vain and temperamental, a "one-man music factory."