What’s next Vivaldi

Two of the most progressive and exciting musical minds come together for the first time on record: Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin) and Giovanni Antonini (recorder/conductor). Together, with Il Giardino Armonico, they present What’s Next Vivaldi? an exhilarating and wholly original journey setting Vivaldi in a contemporary musical context. 

Highly virtuosic violin concerti by Vivaldi (such as Il Grosso Mogul RV 208) are juxtaposed with short pieces by five living Italian composers – mostly commissioned by Kopatchinskaja – to create an album that blurs the divide between the Baroque and the 21st century. Instead of taking a typically retrospective look at his works, the Venetian composer is drawn into the modern spotlight and confronted with contemporary developments, allowing the listener to see him as the forward-looking pioneer he was. Also featured is Vivaldi’s La Tempesta di Mare concerto for violin, strings and b.c. here including Kopatchinskaja’s own breathtaking cadenza.

The result is an alchemical encounter between Il Giardino Armonico, co-founded by Giovanni Antonini and whose highly original and groundbreaking recordings of Vivaldi and eighteenth-century Italian music in the 1990s left an indelible mark on the repertoire, and Patricia Kopatchinskaja, described by Giovanni Antonini as “a brilliant and imaginative musician, anti-academic and ‘modern’ in the most avant-garde sense of the term”. The album represents a rare outing into contemporary repertoire for the legendary Il Giardino Armonico.

Kopatchinskaja comments:

This recording invites Vivaldi into a time laboratory, engages him in a dialogue with today’s creative voices from Italy, telling him, as if to a time traveller, what today’s horizons are: we have inveigled five younger Italian composers into the experiment of reacting to Vivaldi’s music in miniatures. A mixture of old and new, ships full of exotic silk and spices, scents of fairy tales, the Orient, storm and gunpowder.

The discovery of Il Giardino Armonico when I was a young student was for me like a shock or a drug. The group’s daring, bizarre sonic idiom, its articulation and decoration reminded me of my parents’ folk music and had the freshness of contemporary music. My radical way of listening was confirmed: regardless of period and style, the essential thing is to pay the music back in its own coin, to experience it truly and dangerously, with all your senses. To perform and record with these individuals and their congenial director Giovanni Antonini had been one of my most adventurous dreams ever since.

The works by the five Italian composers featured on the album explained:

  • In Incanto XIX (Enchantment XIX), Simone Movio (b. 1978 seeks to synthesise the forms and structures of a Baroque concerto into a microarchitecture that allows us to glimpse its core (imago) under its outer envelope (tunica). 
  • In Spiccato il volo (The violin takes off) by Luca Francesconi (b. 1956), the solo violin emerges from the Concerto for orchestra RV 157 and, inspired by Vivaldi’s highly virtuoso technique, leads into the solo Concerto RV 191. 
  • In Estroso (Eccentric, capricious)Aureliano Cattaneo (b. 1974) shows his interest in Baroque instruments and sonorities and picks up on Vivaldi’s predilection for the extravagant: the furious first section is followed by a double song en route to an unknown country. 
  • The title of the piece by Marco Stroppa (b. 1959), Dilanio avvinto, is an anagram of ‘Antonio Vivaldi’ and means ‘tied up, I tear to pieces’: recorder and violin compete, almost brawl, then eventually dialogue, while an uninvolved violin comments like a referee in the boxing ring. 
  • In Moghul, the Sicilian composer Giovanni Sollima (b. 1962) takes his inspiration from Vivaldi’s two concertos of the same name, for flute and violin respectively, without actually quoting them, but drawing on their oriental spirit, which he knows from Sicily, once ruled by the Arabs. 

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