Antonio VIVALDI (1678 - 1741)
Concerti per due violini, archi e basso continuo
Concerto in D (RV 513) [14:10]
Concerto in B flat (RV 526) (ed. F. Ammetto) [7:27]
Concerto in A (RV 520) (ed. F. Ammetto) [9:05]
Concerto in B flat (RV 764) [8:35]
Concerto in A (RV 521) [9:06]
Concerto in B flat (RV 528) [8:24]
Concerto in F (RV 765) [7:09]
Angelo Cicillini and Luca Venturini (violins)
L'Orfeo Ensemble di Spoleto/Fabrizio Ammetto
rec. 10 - 12 August 2009, Pieve romanica di S. Brizio, Spoleto (PG), Italy.
TACTUS TC 672253 [63:56]
The concertos for two violins by Vivaldi are a lesser-known part of his oeuvre.
He composed a considerable number of them, though. The 28 concertos for this
scoring span almost his entire career. The first examples were included in his
collection of 12 concertos which was printed as his op. 3 in 1711 under the
title L'Estro Armonico. The latest concerto which can be dated is from
1740. It is not entirely clear for whom these works were intended. Some may
have been written as part of Vivaldi's activities as teacher in the Ospedale
della Pietà in Venice. The character of the solo parts is various, and
in many cases they are so demanding that they can only be played by real virtuosos.
Vivaldi was such a virtuoso himself. In his liner-notes Fabrizio Ammetto comes
up with the suggestion that Vivaldi could have played them with his father,
Giovanni Battista, a skilled professional violinist and probably his only formal
The roles of the two violins can greatly differ. Sometimes they play in parallel
thirds, elsewhere they are involved in a contrapuntal texture with imitation.
There are also episodes in which the second violin accompanies the first or
vice versa. Lastly they can develop a dialogue which can take the character
of cooperation or rather confrontation. The roles of the violins can change
within a single concerto or even movement. That is part of the attraction of
these concertos for both performers and listeners.
The programme starts with the Concerto in D (RV 513). It is one of the
most virtuosic pieces and the only one which was printed - apart from the op.
3 concertos. The edition dates from 1736 but the concerto was probably written
about ten years earlier. Particularly remarkable is the written-out cadenza
for both violins in the last movement which includes various modulations.
The Concertos in B flat (RV 526) and in A (RV 520) belong to a
collection of twelve which Vivaldi offered to the Habsburg emperor Charles VI.
Unfortunately the parts of the first solo violin are missing. These have been
reconstructed by Fabrizio Ammetto. The features of the violin parts in the double
concertos mentioned above are helpful in the process of reconstruction. This
has resulted in two beautiful concertos with a nice interplay of the two solo
The Concerto in B flat (RV 764) is a reworking of a concerto for oboe
and violin (RV 548). The largo is especially beautiful, with the two violins
involved in an engaging dialogue supported by the basso continuo alone. The
Concerto in A (RV 521) is a case of literal imitation between the two
violins, and is described by Fabrizio Ammetto as "probably the result of an
experiment in polychoral composition". He suggests that Vivaldi may have placed
the soloists and even the tutti violins in different locations. It is a most
intriguing concerto, with demanding solo parts.
The Concerto in B flat (RV 528), another reconstruction, is also known
from Bach's transcription for harpsichord (BWV 980). It exists in another version,
with one solo part (RV 381). It seems not quite clear which was the original
version. In this version for two violins the second plays a subordinate role;
in the slow movement it doesn't participate at all. The liner-notes fail to
make clear what exactly has been reconstructed here. The disc ends with the
Concerto in F (RV 765) which also exists in a version with violin and
organ as solo instruments (RV 767). The technical demands of the soloists are
This disc is very interesting in regard to the repertoire. No fewer than three
concertos (RV 528, 764 and 765) are recorded here for the first time. The fact
that some concertos needed to be reconstructed makes this disc even more valuable
as such pieces are obviously not often played. Fortunately the interpreters
are fully up to the job; their playing is technically sound and they grasp the
character of the various concertos well.
Often this kind of music is played with one instrument per part. That is not
the case here: the tutti comprises four violins, two violas and two cellos;
one of the latter also participates in the basso continuo. The result is a more
robust sound and a larger contrast between soli and tutti. It is impossible
to say which number of players is closer to the historical truth. It seems that
it could vary from one place to another or from one occasion to another. I would
have liked a more intimate acoustic, but that in no way diminishes my appreciation
for this disc.
Johan van Veen
Three first recordings and three reconstructions are reasons enough to welcome