“Apart from a short period (1717-19) spent in Mantua under the patronage of Philip of Hesse-Darmstadt, Vivaldi never held a full-time post in church or at court; for a composer of Vivaldi’s talent and standing, this was most unusual.
That said, he was employed for significant periods by the Ospedale della Pietài, a Venetian institution (founded c.1340) that cared for unwanted children, often illegitimate or physically disadvantagedii. The Pietà’s performers were taken from a group of women known as the figlie di coro, who sang and played the violin, violin in tromba marina, viola, viola d’amore, cello, violone, viol, double bass, theorbo, mandolin, harpsichord, organ, oboe, flute, recorder, chalumeau and clarinet. The Pietà developed a strong reputation for its musical performances, engaging the finest composers and teachers of the day. It was important to ensure that the standards were high; after all, these entertainments were most popular with Venetians and visitors alike whose donations provided a welcome extra source of revenue.
In addition to the many fine vocal works, Vivaldi also contributed many concertos that could be used to replace parts of the liturgy in church services. Amongst these are almost certainly all of his concertos for violin and obligato organ, presumably designed to show off the magnificent instrument that the Pietà had purchased in 1708.
We are extremely grateful to the Vivaldi scholar Michael Talbot for sharing his findings. As so much of Vivaldi’s sacred output seems to have been created whilst deputising for others, one can only imagine the riches that would have poured forth from his pen had he been given a church post. The quality of the music contained within his sacred oeuvre is breath-taking and it is a great tragedy that the evidence points to a large tranche of this repertoire having been lost over the years. It is interesting on this last point to note how few of the great composers since 1750 have been violinists. One can only hope that the time is now ripe for Vivaldi’s genius as a church composer to be fully recognised”
Born on Merseyside in 1974, Adrian Chandler is recognised as one of today’s leading interpreters of Italian baroque music. Whilst a student at the Royal College of Music, Adrian founded La Serenissima with whom he has performed as Director/Soloist at major festivals internationally, and has recorded extensively for the Avie label (winning a Gramophone Award in 2010). He has been Guest Director/Soloist with many ensembles, most recently at Oslo Chamber Music Festival. Adrian’s performances have been broadcast extensively worldwide; his disc of virtuoso violin sonatas Per Monsieur Pisendel 2 released in 2014 attracted rave reviews and featured on the soundtrack of hit American TV series The Originals. His interpretation of The Four Seasons was released in 2015 to outstanding critical reception.
Known for his virtuosity and commitment as performer, Adrian also works tirelessly to research and edit new repertoire for La Serenissima. He held an Arts and Humanities Research Council fellowship in 2006 at Southampton University to research the development of the North Italian violin concerto 1690 – 1740, and subsequently a two-year post as Turner Sims Professor. He is curating La Serenissima’s first ever residency The Grand Tour at St John’s Smith Square, London during the 2016/17 season.
La Serenissima was formed in 1994 for a performance of Antonio Vivaldi’s La Sena festeggiante and has now firmly established itself as one of the leading exponents of the music of eighteenth century Venice and connected composers.
Since its first CD release in 2003, La Serenissima has been universally applauded by publications including BBC Music Magazine, Diapason, Gramophone Magazine, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Fanfare Magazine, American Record Guide, The Strad, La Stampa and Goldberg Magazine for its performances on the Avie Label. Their records have variously been nominated for a Gramophone Award (on multiple occasions), included in an elite Forbes List and featured on a hit American television soundtrack. In 2010 the group’s eighth release Vivaldi: The French Connection was awarded the Gramophone Award for Best Baroque Instrumental CD. La Serenissima celebrated its 21st birthday by recording Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (Manchester version) alongside works for violino in tromba marina: a reconstruction project undertaken by violinist Adrian Chandler, luthier David Rattray and the musicologist Michael Talbot which was a first in modern times. Released in September 2015, the record entered the UK Specialist Classical Chart at number 8, was featured as ‘Editor’s Choice’ Gramophone Magazine, ‘Concerto Choice’ BBC Music Magazine, voted ‘Classical Album of the Year’ by the Irish Times and was ranked in the Top 3 Picks of Radio 3’s ‘Building a Library – The Four Seasons’ from a catalogue of albums dating back to the 1940s.
The ensemble prides itself on bringing seldom-heard works to the concert platform, including Vivaldi’s operas Ottone in villa, Giustino, Tito Manlio, La Fida Ninfa, Catone in Utica and L’Olimpiade as well as a host of instrumental rarities, many of which have been committed to disc. Works by other composers feature too such as Albinoni’s Il nascimento dell’Aurora and sacred vocal works by Caldara.
La Serenissima has appeared at many of the UK’s leading festivals including Bath Bach, Beverley, Buxton, Cheltenham, Lichfield, South Bank, Spitalfields, Swansea International, Warwick and York Early Music festivals, and venues including St George’s Bristol, Snape Maltings, Cadogan Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall. The group has also appeared in Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Malta, Mexico and Spain to great acclaim. Nearly the entire repertoire of La Serenissima is edited by Director Adrian Chandler from manuscript or contemporary printed sources, a testament to its commitment and passion for rare and exciting Italian music; a feat which makes it unique amongst its peers.
Highlights of the 2015/2016 season include the culmination of UK tour The Four Seasons supported by Arts Council England and the beginning of the ensemble’s first ever residency at St John’s Smith Square, London entitled The Grand T our.