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Vivaldi - The French Connection

Vivaldi / La Serenissima / Chandler
Release Date: 09/08/2009 
Label:  Avie   Catalog #: 2178   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Adrian ChandlerPeter WhelanSarah MoffattCecilia Bernardini,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Serenissima
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



VIVALDI String Concertos: No. 1 in g, RV 157; No. 3 in c, RV 119; No. 5 in C, RV 114. Bassoon Concerto in F, RV 488. Concerto fragments: for Bassoon in C, RV 468; for Flute in e, RV 432. Violin Concertos: in C, RV 185; in D, Read more class="ARIAL12"> RV 211. Flute and Bassoon Concerto in G, RV 438 (late version). Flute, Violin, and Bassoon Concerto in F, RV 100 Adrian Chandler (vn, cond); Katy Bircher (fl); Peter Whelan (bn); La Serenissima (period instruments) AVIE 2178 (76:54)


This CD has been given the title “The French Connection,” but it has nothing to do with the 1971 film in which Gene Hackman plays a New York City police detective trying to figure out where all the heroin is coming from. Instead, the title is an allusion to the increasing interest that French and Italian composers (and music lovers in general) had in each other’s music during the 1720s and 1730s. Vivaldi was an important player in this virtual exchange program, and supplied music—either new or recycled—for French patrons and printers. Even music intended for domestic use sometimes spoke with a French accent, as it were, during this period. Try the opening of RV 211 (probably composed as an operatic entr’acte) and you’ll immediately hear, in the dotted rhythms and swooping flourishes, an example of Vivaldi “speaking French.” This CD, then, is a varied compilation of works that fit into one of the above categories. As usual, one is impressed with Vivaldi’s fecundity and flexibility.


Adrian Chandler’s booklet notes are in two parts. The first is a discussion of Vivaldi’s impact on French music, and vice-versa. The second is “A note on the performance—a musician’s perspective.” This is a really terrific bit of musicology that even a layman should be able to get into. For example, in two of the so-called “Paris” concertos, a theorbo is used in the continuo, but in the fifth concerto, it is replaced with a guitar. Why, you might ask? Chandler argues that this concerto appears to have been specifically composed for a French audience and is the most typically French in style; therefore, it makes sense to use a guitar, which apparently was uncommon in Italian orchestral music at that time. Chandler also explains the two fragments included on this CD—concertos lacking one or more movements. Schubert’s “Unfinished” is, after all, a fragment, too, argues Chandler. I don’t think either of these fragments rises to Schubert’s level (or Bruckner’s Ninth!), but I agree with Chandler that works shouldn’t be ignored just because they are incomplete.


At first I thought that these performances were going to be too aggressive, but fortunately that is not the case, at least for the most part. The playing is lively (but not rushed) and very well articulated, and the fast movements have an appealing bounce. The musicians seem to be having fun. The slow movements sing nicely, without too much sweetness. La Serenissima was founded in 1994 and has recorded several discs for Avie. I am sorry to have missed them until now, but I hope to make up for that. Flutist Bircher and bassoonist Whelan are members of the ensemble. Whelan is particularly delightful to hear as he burbles through Vivaldi’s busier passages. His bassoon, a modern copy of an old Venetian instrument, even sounds a little like a saxophone at times, and to my ears, that only adds to the fun.


The recording is rich and brilliant, but not everyone will like how it brings the soloists so well into the foreground.


FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
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Works on This Recording

1. Concerto for Strings in C major, RV 114 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Adrian Chandler (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Serenissima
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester, Hamps 
Length: 5 Minutes 50 Secs. 
2. Concerto for Bassoon in F major, RV 488 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Peter Whelan (Bassoon), Sarah Moffatt (Violin), Adrian Chandler (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Serenissima
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester, Hamps 
Length: 8 Minutes 27 Secs. 
3. Concerto for Violin in C major, Op. 4 no 7/RV 185 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Adrian Chandler (Violin), Cecilia Bernardini (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Serenissima
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1714; Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester, Hamps 
Length: 7 Minutes 23 Secs. 
4. Concerto for Flute in G major, RV 438 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Adrian Chandler (Violin), Peter Whelan (Bassoon), Katy Bircher (Flute),
Sarah Moffatt (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Serenissima
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester, Hamps 
Length: 10 Minutes 3 Secs. 
5. Concerto for Strings in G minor, RV 157 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Adrian Chandler (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Serenissima
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester, Hamps 
Length: 6 Minutes 17 Secs. 
6. Concerto for Bassoon in C major, RV 468 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Adrian Chandler (Violin), Peter Whelan (Bassoon), Katy Bircher (Flute)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Serenissima
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1742 
Venue:  Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester, Hamps 
Length: 4 Minutes 19 Secs. 
7. Concerto for Flute in E minor, RV 432 [incomplete] by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Adrian Chandler (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Serenissima
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
Venue:  Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester, Hamps 
Length: 3 Minutes 5 Secs. 
8. Chamber Concerto for Flute, Bassoon and Basso Continuo in F major, RV 100 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Adrian Chandler (Violin), Peter Whelan (Bassoon), Katy Bircher (Flute)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Serenissima
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1716 
Venue:  Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester, Hamps 
Length: 7 Minutes 10 Secs. 
9. Concerto for Strings in C minor, RV 119 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Adrian Chandler (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Serenissima
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester, Hamps 
Length: 5 Minutes 16 Secs. 
10. Concerto for Violin in D major, RV 211 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Adrian Chandler (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Serenissima
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
Venue:  Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester, Hamps 
Length: 6 Minutes 3 Secs. 

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