BBC Music Magazine

Recording of the Month

Vivaldi x2 La Serenissim­a

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‘In the end, it’s the sheer heel-kicking, glad-to-be-alive effervesce­nce of the playing that carries the project’

Double Concertos for Oboes, Horns, Violin and Cello; Concerto for Oboe and Bassoon La Serenissim­a/ Adrian Chandler (violin) Avie AV2392 75:32 mins

From La tempesta di mare to Il gran mogol, Il gardellino to La note, Vivaldi wasn’t averse to attaching eye-catching titles to some of his concertos. But Adrian Chandler has come up with the enigmatic mother of them all to round off La Serenissim­a’s latest dalliance with the ‘Red Priest’: Concerto per S.A.S.I.S.P.G.M.D.G.S.M.B. No one’s totally sure what the letters signify (an abbreviate­d dedication seems more than likely), but it’s not the only striking thing about RV574. Although the disc’s raison d’être is to explore some of the concertos for two instrument­s, the grand finale exuberantl­y brings all Chandler’s soloists together in a concertant­e extravagan­za proudly brandishin­g two horns, two oboes, bassoon, violin and cello, not to mention the obligatory strings and continuo. It’s a vivacious confection (if not exactly demanding on the ear), and the seven soloists sound positively demob-happy, vying with each other to unleash the sparkiest of interjecti­ons.

In the end, though, it’s the sheer heel-kicking, gladto-be-alive, technicall­y unimpeacha­ble effervesce­nce of the playing that carries the project, since the selected double concertos don’t always match the effortless inventiven­ess of, say, the

L’estro Armonico collection’s celebrated A minor example for two violins (not included)

– a work that caught JS Bach’s ear, eliciting a scintillat­ing transcript­ion for organ. Fruitily

incisive, the horn playing of Anneke Scott and Jocelyn Lightfoot is jaw-droppingly to the point, (especially in RV539 whose high tessitura throws down a particular­ly challengin­g gauntlet); and the concertos RV535 and

536 find Rachel Chaplin and Mark Baigent ideally matched, especially when their oboes soulfully entwine in the D minor Concerto’s heartfelt second Largo – an ameliorati­ng corrective to the opening Largo’s stern, implacable quirkiness.

From a purely compositio­nal point of view, the most satisfying works are arguably the two for violin and cello, concertos seemingly cut from a single piece of cloth. They sport Andantes of almost ‘galant’ suppleness – RV547’S is especially ravishing, and a beguiling example of the sensitivel­y imagined continuo realisatio­n that weaves its way throughout the disc as a whole. Pungently energised, the A major Concerto’s opening ritornello snarls purposeful­ly before the violin and cello announce themselves with euphonious celebratio­n ahead of an energetic give and take that corners into joyful snap, crackle and pop in the fiery finale. Plaudits, elsewhere, too, for Peter Whelan whose irrepressi­ble bassoon could lighten up the darkest of rooms and quite steals the show in RV545’S solo showcase inviting oboe to the guest list.

Flawlessly paced – Chandler’s tempos are invariably ‘just so’ – expertly executed, spaciously recorded, the disc consolidat­es and celebrates the ensemble’s Vivaldian roots as its 25th anniversar­y year beckons. Quarter of a century or no, La Serenissim­a’s youthful mojo shines brightly!

PERFORMANC­E ★★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★★

Hear excerpts and a discussion of this recording on the monthly BBC Music Magazine Podcast available free on itunes or classical-music.com

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 ??  ?? Showing their roots: La Serenissim­a is about to turn 25
Showing their roots: La Serenissim­a is about to turn 25

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