From April 25, the complete live recording of the concert Venezia Stravagante, performed by Accademia Bizantina at the Teatro Goldoni in Bagnacavallo on December 13, 2020, will be available online on Accademia Bizantina’s YouTube channel.
In the meantime, here is a preview we hope you will enjoy: the first movement, Allegro non molto, from Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for violin in E minor RV 273.
Music by Antonio Vivaldi
Concerto per archi in Si bem. magg. RV 167
Allegro – Andante – Allegro
Concerto per violino in Mi min. RV 273
Allegro non molto – Largo – Allegro
Concerto per archi in La min. RV 161
Allegro – Largo – Allegro
Concerto per archi in Do min. RV 118
Allegro – Largo – Allegro
Concerto per viola d’amore in Re min. RV 393
Allegro – Largo – Allegro
Concerto per archi in Fa mag. RV 138
Allegro – Adagio – Allegro
Alessandro Tampieri – direzione, violino, viola d’amore
In the years between the 17th and the first half of the 18th century Venice was one of the richest and most creative musical centres of the millennium. One of the most important European nodes for trade, meeting point and crossroad of different peoples and cultures, Venice in the 18th century was one of the most populous cities in Europe. Even though from a political point of view the Serenissima was progressively losing its power of the past centuries, in the artistic field the city enjoyed a real golden age in the eighteenth century. If Naples and Rome were the most important musical centres in southern and central Italy, in the north the scene was dominated by Venice, a sought-after destination for musicians and composers seeking employment in the city’s many musical chapels and institutions.
This musical richness was certainly also favoured by the autonomy that Venice acquired in the religious field in relation to the Church of Rome. The partial detachment from the Roman rite influenced the sacred music that accompanied the liturgy, which developed in new directions especially with regard to Vespers: in St. Mark’s the rite of Aquileia prevailed, which differed from the Roman rite in some details. Some feasts included an elaborate use of music in Vespers, with complex polycoral psalms and instrumental works interspersed with vocal works. St. Mark was therefore an important centre of experimentation for the composers who played the role of Masters, who were almost all Venetians (with the important exception of Monteverdi.) But St. Mark was not the only musical centre in the city: the numerous churches, convents and monasteries, the palaces of the nobles, the large and small Schools, the theatres (public and private), even the canals were opportunities to listen and produce music.
Then there were the Hospitals, institutions that offered orphans, mainly girls, an education that included music and learning to play more than one instrument. There were four hospitals (Gli Incurabili, Mendicanti, Derelitti and La Pietà), each with its own musical chapel, and they reached their maximum splendour in the early 18th century. Although the declared aim was to stimulate devotional and prayerful thoughts in the listener, vocal and instrumental virtuosity was a prerogative of these institutions, directed by Masters such as Monferrato, Legrenzi, Pallavicino, Pollarolo, Gasparini and Vivaldi.
Vivaldi was for a long time a teacher at the Ospedale della Pietà, and numerous compositions were created for this institution, exploiting the qualities of the students who in many cases proved to be extraordinary musicians and singers.
At the Pietà lessons were given on a wide variety of instruments, such as the Viola d’amore. Vivaldi wrote 7 concerts for this particular instrument, including the Concerto RV 393 on the programme. The Viola d’amore was a particular string instrument characterised by 7 strings under which, untouched by the bow, as many strings vibrated thanks to the frequencies of the main strings. This characteristic gave the instrument a particularly sweet sound, perhaps the reason for its curious name. The instrument never reached a large diffusion, also because it was very difficult to play. The tuning was often variable and adapted from time to time to the tonality of writing to facilitate the positions and the realization of chords. Vivaldi was probably the first to write concertos for Viola d’Amore soloist.
The other concertos in the programme are an extraordinary example of the creative inventiveness shown by Vivaldi in the field of instrumental music. Vivaldi was not the inventor of the concerto, but he was undoubtedly the one who best codified its form, creating the model for his contemporaries and for composers to come and writing an extraordinary production, very often the result of an impulsive way of composing. Faced with such an important production (more than five hundred concertos) we might think the musical material would be repetitive: on the contrary Vivaldi reveals himself as a composer of surprising variety, a unique composer, not only in his generation. A rare composer capable of expressing himself at the highest level in any musical repertoire, and a shining example of a brilliant and extravagant Venice.