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Although we associate Vivaldi mainly with Venice because he spent pretty much the first forty years of his life there, he did, inevitably, get itchy feet as he became older.
As well as wanting to travel, he was also keen to oversee productions of his operas, not just in order that they came out well, but also so that he might pitch for new work in different geographical markets. In his fifties, his reputation as a composer preceded him and Vivaldi was able to travel quite a lot. The job at the Pietà was still assured via a unique contract to supply new tunes in the post, so he was able to zip around with relative freedom, often with an eyebrow-raising entourage of two soprano sisters in tow, to spread the Vivaldi word.
This concerto comes from this globe-trotting period (or, at least, Europe-trotting period). It was written in Bohemia, although its three short movements never saw publication in his lifetime. If it’s an authentic sound and perfectly judged playing that you want, try a version by Ugo Orlandi (mandolin) and I Solisti Veneti. For a modern take, transposed to guitar, try los Romeros – the talented Romero family recommended below – and their arrangement, with more Vivaldi works alongside.
Los Romeros (guitars); Academy of St Martin in the Fields; Iona Brown (conductor). Philips: 4681462.
Illustration: Mark Millington