It took a bit of courage to purchase this 19CD box set of Vivaldi’s complete concerti and sonatas (Op. 1-12) from Amazon, partly because I didn’t consider myself as a complete ‘fanatic’ of Vivaldi to have this immense amount of high quality recordings. I have only just been infatuated with his music by hearing some of the beautiful violin concertos in L’estro armonico (Harmonic Inspiration) Op.3, Vivaldi’s first published collection of concertos (1711) that was “musically the most ambitious and in content the richest…that had appeared up to that date.” (Michael Talbot) I daresay it is Vivaldi’s most praised compositions next to the Four Seasons. I could have just bought the complete recordings of L’estro armonico Op.3 in two discs or so (CD5-6 in this box set) but Vivaldi published so many collections of concertos afterwards (i.e. La Stravaganza Op. 4, Le Cetra Op. 9) that are just equally brilliant and beautiful. The performer of this exquisite set is I Musici (the Musicians), an Italian chamber orchestra since 1953 and is well known in the world for their interpretations of Baroque musicians. Prior to listening to their recordings, I enjoyed Vivaldi’s music performed by Tafelmusik and Stuttgart Orchestra.
Unlike other Baroque composers like Johann Sebastian Bach or George Frideric Handel, the Venice-born priest and composer (1679-1741) never tasted the highest honour of serving the emperor as the court composer or Kapellmeister. His fame among nobility and royalty was short-lived after he died in 1741 as a pauper who failed to earn the emperor’s preferment. His works had been widely forgotten until the early 20th century when musicians revived his forms in their compositions. The deeper I delved into his music, the more I am impressed with the vastness in its amount and the richness in its sentiment.
When I can afford it I would love to acquire recordings of his sacred choral music he composed for the Pietà, the orphanage he worked many years as music director.