Biagio Marini and Antonio Vivaldi in Vicenza
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Cessate, omai cessate (RV 684) [13:32]
Biagio MARINI (1594-1663)
Il Zontino, balletto a 3 op. 1 [3:08]
Sonata III variata per il violino op. 8 [7:55]
Sonata sopra la Monica op. 8 [5:20]
Passacalio 3 & 4 op. 22 [5:19]
Amor, hai vinto (RV 683) [13:40]
Giuseppina Bridelli (mezzo)
I Musicali Affetti (Fabio Missaggia, Matteo Zanatto (violin), Simone Laghi (viola), Carlo Zanardi (cello), Fabiano Merlante (archlute, theorbo, guitar), Francesca Bacchetta (harpsichord))/Fabio Missaggia
rec. 2013, Gallerie d'Italia, Palazzo Leoni Montanari, Vicenza, Italy.DDD
TACTUS TC590004 DVD [58:49]

Marini and Vivaldi on one disc - that is a rather unlikely combination. They belong to different epochs in music history: Vivaldi was born fifteen years after Marini's death. What do they have in common? Very little, one has to say, apart from the fact that they both had been active in the same city: Vicenza. However, in each case their stay was rather short.

Biagio Marini was appointed maestro di cappella of Vicenza Cathedral in August 1655, but resigned at the end of 1656 for unknown reasons. During this time he published his last collection of instrumental music, the op. 22 from which the last piece is chosen: Passacalio 3 & 4. This part of the programme is extended by three further compositions. Il Zontino is a balletto from his very first opus which dates from 1617. Two pieces are taken from the op. 8 of 1629. This is an important work as it includes several playing techniques which were new at the time and were destined to become an important part of violin technique for ages to come.

Vivaldi's stay in Vicenza was even shorter: just one month. In May 1713 he performed his opera Ottone in villa in the Teatro delle Grazie which had been built only one year before. The next day Vivaldi performed his oratorio La vittoria navale which was the result of a commission from the Dominicans of S. Corona. The libretto of the latter has been preserved, but the music has been lost. For this reason it is impossible to include any music by Vivaldi from his time in Vicenza apart from arias from Ottone in Villa. Probably because I Musicali Affetti is a chamber ensemble two chamber cantatas were chosen instead, and two of his best-known to boot. This seriously reduces the importance of this disc.

Marini's music is far less often performed, but I am pretty sure that most of the pieces recorded here are available elsewhere. This DVD could add something, for instance by showing pictures from the Palazzo Leoni Montanari where the recording took place. It holds a valuable collection of paintings but we get little to see from that location. During the performances it is mostly the interpreters who are in the picture, and I can't see the need for that. The facial expressions of Giuseppina Bridelli are rather distracting.

I would prefer a conventional disc which can be played on a CD player. The performances are generally quite good, although probably a bit too restrained, at least in the instrumental part. Ms Bridelli's performances are very nice. She has a pleasant voice which is well suited to this kind of music, although her low register is not quite strong enough for the low notes in these cantatas. In some parts of her ornamentation in the dacapos she takes too much freedom but on the whole I enjoyed what I heard from her.

The DVD includes a documentary about the palace, the cathedral and the theatre of Vicenza, but we see the talking head of first violinist Fabio Missaggia more often than the features of these buildings. Technically the documentary is not up to the highest standards either. Here we have English subtitles, but in the cantatas we have to do without them. The booklet includes a link to the Tactus site where the lyrics should be available for download. I haven't found them.

From a production point of view this DVD is not an equivocal success. The performances are generally good but not remarkable and the choice of repertoire is hardly a decisive argument in favour of this DVD.

Johan van Veen


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