Igor Stravinsky once gibed that Antonio Vivaldi “composed the same concerto” 500 times. This paved the way for a prejudice whereby the Venetian Baroque composer lacked in musical imaginativeness – a perfidious suspicion that did not take into account that the mere sum of Vivaldi’s contributions to the genre was a formidable achievement. In addition, Vivaldi, who was born in 1678, lived in a time when music was undergoing manifold aesthetic and compositional changes. Especially the genre of the solo concerto, which he particularly espoused, was at a fledgling stage. Unable to fall back on any genre traditions, Vivaldi, together with two older composer colleagues, rendered a great service – nothing less than “inventing” the instrumental concerto, as well as consolidating it formally and structurally for the first time.
The experimental character that is characteristic of Vivaldi’s music despite its formidable structural perfection can be uncovered when listening to this Venice Baroque Orchestra concert. The orchestra, which was launched in 1997 by Italian harpsichordist Andrea Marcon, has made a name for itself as one of the most stylistically competent advocates of the music of the Baroque period, offering lively interpretations on concert and opera stages around the world.
In collaboration with the Israeli mandolinist Avi Avital, who was born in 1978, the Venice Baroque Orchestra will present five instrumental concerti by Vivaldi – including one from the composer’s irrepressible Opus 8, the Four Seasons. Vivaldi’s singular significance in music history will become apparent when the work of a younger composer like Giovanni Paisiello, born in 1740 and who primarily achieved fame in the field of opera, is performed during this concert. The evening will be rounded off with instrumental pieces by Benedetto Marcello and Francesco Geminiani.
Vivaldi, who also appeared as the composer of ca. 50 staged works, not only paved the way for future generations in the solo concerto field. Vivaldi could not have surmised his influence on future musical developments during his lifetime, but he knew what he was doing. Even Stravinsky had to acknowledge that when he amended his disrespectful criticism of Vivaldi’s solo concerti, ungrudgingly conceding that every single one of them is “perfect”.