Title: Vivaldi: L’estro armonico – 12 Concerti, Op. 3
The publication of Vivaldi’s Opus 3, ‘L’estro armonico’ – ‘the Harmonic Inspiration’, was the international breakthrough of Vivaldi that spread the composer’s name and reputation across Europe. Although one would be hard-pressed to claim that none of the essential features of this collection of 12 concertos was unfamiliar to professional musicians of the day, the fact of their appearance in print at that time took Vivaldi’s name throughout the musical world of his contemporaries including, of course, to JS Bach.
The concept of transcriptions and differing instrumental timbres a day-to-day occurrence across Europe in the early 18th-century, but also the application and revivification of the music itself by modern-day performing musicians constitute a demonstration of the continuing validity of the practice, a relevance today wider in scope than the efforts, admirable though they be, of the historically informed performance practice of today’s ensembles.
It follows, therefore, that Armoniosa are at one level merely continuing a practice known and encouraged by Vivaldi and his contemporaries, a practice which, in many ways, would seem to have died out in our society’s wider attempts at historical recreations of how music must have first appeared to our predecessors. Music is not similar to an immobile object in a museum. It music remains, as it has always done, a living organism in time, and it is this living quality that Armoniosa seek to revive for modern ears, mindful and always respectful of the originals, which are heard almost daily throughout the world, but which demonstrate that these living organisms can also be reborn through 21st-century ears in a manner which concentrates upon the essential qualities of Vivaldi’s great music, and which is not hidebound by the straightjackets of history. In this way, Armoniosa’s director Michele Barchi has completed the transcription for keyboards of the whole collection of L’Estro Armonico, the instrumentation of the Armoniosa ensemble (violin, cello ‘piccolo’ with five strings, cello, organ and harpsichord) to realise the orchestral timbres as originally provided by Vivaldi. The results of such research and transcriptions reveal a chamber ensemble capable of a fuller orchestral sound, a further original recreation of the rich expressive power of Vivaldi’s Opus 3.
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