musica Dei donum

CD reviews

"Lost in Venice"

Infermi d'Amore

rec: Jan 10 - 13, 2022, Pedraza (Segovia), Fundación Villa de Pedraza (Iglesia de Santo Domingo)
Eudora - EUD-DR-2206 (© 2022) (65'11")
[review: digital download]
Liner-notes: E/ES
Cover & track-list

Benedetto MARCELLO (1686-1739): Concerto for violin, strings and bc in A, op. 1,9a; Francesco Maria VERACINI (1690-1768): Overture No. 6 in B flat; Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741): Concerto for cello, strings and bc in B flat (RV 788)c; Concerto for violin, strings and bc in C (RV 182)a; Concerto for violin, strings and bc in E (RV 263) (allegro non molto)a; Concerto for violin, strings and bc in G minor (RV 320)a; Concerto for two violins, strings and bc in A (RV 521)b; Sinfonia ŕ 4 in D (RV 786)

Vadym Makarenko (soloa), Natalie Carducci (solob), Camille Aubret, Corinne Raymond-Jarczyk, Miriam Hontana, violin; Ricardo Gil Sánchez, viola; Bruno Hurtado Gosálvez, cello (soloc); Ismael Campanero, violone; Emmanuelle Huteau, bassoon; Jadran Duncumb, theorbo, guitar; Joan Boronat Sanz, harpsichord, organ

Antonio Vivaldi is one of the most frequently-performed composers, whose oeuvre is very well represented on disc. Even so, there are still gaps in the discography: not all his works are available in recordings. In the case of his violin concertos that can hardly surprise: there are so many that it would take a large number of discs to cover them all. The label Naive has started a project to record them, but it progresses rather slowly, and to date there are still a considerable number of concertos that have not been recorded yet. The disc under review here includes one of them, but also focuses on pieces that have been preserved incomplete and need reconstruction in order to be performed.

Vivaldi was one of the first composers who wrote solo concertos for cello. The catalogue of Vivaldi's works, put together by Peter Ryom, lists 27 of them. They were recorded by Francesco Galligioni and L'Arte dell'Arco, directed by Federico Guglielmo. Here we get the Concerto in B flat (RV 788). The RV number suggests that it is a special case. In this part of the catalogue we find pieces that are adaptations of other works and incomplete compositions, among them several cello concertos. In this case only the viola parts of the ripieno have been preserved. Olivier Fourés, who has already reconstructed a number of works by Vivaldi, wrote the missing violin parts. This concerto dates from the 1730s and was dedicated to a young cellist of the Ospedale della Pietŕ, with the name of Teresa. A comparable case is the Sinfonia a 4 in D (RV 786), which belongs among the category of the concertos and sinfonias for ripieno strings. They have been recorded complete by the ensemble L'Archicembalo, but this work was not included. Again Fourés reconstructed the missing parts.

The two violin concertos RV 182 and 320 are typical specimens of Vivaldi's art, but different in character. What they have in common is that they include technical challenges. The latter concerto ends with a movement that has the character of a dance. The second half of this movement is lacking, and for this recording it has been completed by Fourés. He suggests that the closing movement of RV 182 could be inspired by a folk dance from what is now Croatia. In Vivaldi's catalogue we find several works which are listed in the catalogue with a number and an additional letter. This indicates that a work exists in different versions. That is also the case with the Concerto in E (RV 263/263a). The latter comprises the first and second movement from the original concerto, whereas the third movement is identical with the closing movement from the Concerto RV 762. This version was put together by Vivaldi himself, and Fourés suggests that one of the reasons may have been that "its notably buffo character (orchestral unison, contrasting ritornello sections, the lyrical episode in the final solo) point to this work's having been linked to a context too specific to be grasped by non-Italian musicians." Here we get only the closing movement of the original. I would have preferred a complete recording of the concerto as it was originally intended by Vivaldi.

Vivaldi also composed a number of concertos for two violins. Some of them may have been intended for performance with his father, also a skilled violinist. The violins in the Concerto in A largely imitate each other. It has been suggested that it was intended as a piece for two 'choirs'. The solo parts are technically demanding.

Strictly speaking, this disc is not devoted to the oeuvre of Vivaldi, but rather to Venice, as the title indicates. Given the fact that Vivaldi was a dominating force in the city, the attention given to his oeuvre is justified. Veracini was Vivaldi's equal as a virtuoso on the violin. He considered himself the greatest violinist of his time. Modesty was not part of his character. The Overture No. 6 is the last of a set of six that was dedicated to the Prince Elector of Saxony. This explains the mixture of Italian and French elements: in Germany the mixed style was highly appreciated.

Benedetto Marcello was of aristocratic birth, which explains why he never was at the service of any patron, court or church. He was what was then called a dilettante. His oeuvre includes some oratorios and other sacred works as well as music for the stage. The largest part comprises chamber cantatas, many of them on his own texts, and duets. He also composed some concertos with obbligato parts for violin and cello and sonatas for recorder and for cello. Here we get one of the twelve concertos that were published in a modern edition under the title of concerti grossi, but in fact these are concertos in five parts for strings and basso continuo with obbligato parts for violin and cello. The former is missing, and because of that these works are seldom performed. Here the Concerto No. 9 is performed with a reconstructed violin part.

The young Ukranian violinist Vadym Makarenko and the ensemble Infermi d'Amore were new to me. This disc may be their first, and it is a most pleasant acquaintance. I like the way they approach this repertoire, and the collaboration with Olivier Fourés is a successful one. The reconstructions make this disc an important addition to the Vivaldi discography anyway. Add to that the fine playing, both of the solo parts and of the tutti, and one may understand that this is a disc no Vivaldi lover should miss. There is just one issue: I am not very impressed by the recording. It was made in a church, but apparently the miking was very close. There is hardly any reverberation and because of that the sound is a bit narrow. I would have preferred a little more space around the ensemble.

It should not withhold anyone to purchase this disc. It will give you as much pleasure as it gave me.

Johan van Veen (© 2022)

Relevant links:

Infermi d'Amore

CD Reviews