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Tonight's Great Composer is the Red Priest himself, Antonio Vivaldi. Jane Jones has some of his most famous works.
The concert opens tonight with the overture to Vivaldi's musical drama L'Olimpiade. It premiered in Venice at the Teatro Sant'Angelo on 17 February 1734. It's a story of love and rivalry set against the backdrop of the Ancient Greek Olympics. Two friends are competing in an athletics competition where the prize is the hand of the organiser's daughter. One of the friends is already in love with her, and the other is on the verge of falling for her. So it could get messy.
Vivaldi's Guitar Concerto in D major is played tonight on the mandolin, adapted from his Concerto for Lute, two Violins and Continuo. It's one of the finest examples of Vivaldi's concertos with a beautiful second movement.
Vivaldi composed his Gloria in D probably around 1715, for the choir of the Ospedale della Pietà, a home for girls where he worked. Vivaldi, a priest, music teacher and virtuoso violinist, composed many sacred works for the Ospedale, where he spent most of his career, as well as hundreds of instrumental concertos to be played by the girls’ orchestra. This, his most famous choral piece, presents the traditional Gloria from the Latin Mass. The wonderfully sunny nature of the Gloria, with its distinctive melodies and rhythms, is characteristic of all of Vivaldi’s music, giving it an immediate and universal appeal.
The Four Seasons is Vivaldi's most famous work. It was published in 1725 in a set of twelve concertos titled, 'The Test of Harmony and Invention'. The four concertos representing each of the seasons especially appealed to French audiences. For example, King Louis XV reportedly ordered 'Spring' to be performed at some unexpected moments. Vivaldi also wrote individual poetic sonnets to go along with each concerto of the Four Seasons which are sometimes read along with performances of the work.
Our concert ends with Vivaldi's Concerto in F major RV.569. It's scored for violin, two oboes, two horns and bassoon and is played tonight by Europa Galante under Fabio Biondi.
Vivaldi: L’Olimpiade – Overture
Thomas Hengelbrock conducts the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra
Vivaldi: Guitar Concerto in D major
Mandolin: Ugo Orlandi
Claudio Scimone conducts I Solisti Veneti
Vivaldi: Gloria in D major
Soloists: Anna Simboli, Alena Dantcheva, Nicholas Robinson, Sara Mingardo
Rinaldo Alessandrini conducts Concerto Italiano
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
Anne-Sophie Mutter directs the Trondheim Soloists
Vivaldi: Concerto in F major RV.569
Fabio Biondi conducts Europa Galante