Venice By Night
Adrian Chandler has devised a delightful vignette of 18th-century Venetian nightlife, ghosting gently through the canals to private and public concerts, a church, an open-air performance and the opera house. Gondolas had their own specialised repertoire, a singer with instruments small enough not to rock the boat. The first song is wittily apt: a gondola-owner’s boast that ‘mine is bigger than yours’.
Mhairi Lawson is, in turn, a gondola-borne singer, soloist in a Lotti motet, and at the opera the famous castrato, Marianino Nicolini. She’s equally at home in the simplest syllabic songs, gentle cantabile and, at the end, a sparkling Vivaldi duet di agilità with trumpet.
Peter Whelan is a virtuoso bassoonist in one of Vivaldi’s 38 concertos for the instrument, bounding his staccato way through the outer fast movements and revealing a honeyed lyricism between. Simon Munday proves an impeccable trumpeter in a fairly forgettable sinfonia by Pollarolo and two splendid pieces by Albinoni and Porta. His playing is remarkable for its restraint, balancing ideally the strings of La Serenissima, transparent yet lively and energetic. The clarity of contrapuntal lines in a fugue on four subjects by Veracini is exemplary. Recorded sound throughout is excellent. With five ‘first recordings’, this is not to be missed.