COMPOSERS: Antonio Vivaldi
ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi: Le Senna festeggiante
WORKS: Le Senna festeggiante
PERFORMER: Yetzabel Arias Fernández (soprano), Martin Oro (bass); Le Risonanza/Fabio Bonizzoni
CATALOGUE NO: GCD921513
La Senna festeggiante (The River Seine Rejoicing), whose form lies between dramatic cantata and opera, is musically the most convincing of Vivaldi’s three surviving serenatas. Lovers of chamber and dramatic cantatas by Handel might already know just how effective La Risonanza’s performances can be. Under Fabio Bonizzoni’s stylish direction, the ensemble once more beguiles our senses with Vivialdi’s hugely appealing serenata.
It is thought to have been written in 1726 to celebrate the feast of St Louis, Louis XV’s name day, and improved diplomatic relations between Venice and France. As Michael Talbot writes in his excellent accompanying essay, Vivaldi and his librettist, Domenico Lalli, were in effect paying tribute to the French ambassador to Venice, Louis XV and the powerful Cardinal Ottoboni who, after several years of politically motivated banishment from his native city, had returned in 1726.
Each of its two parts is introduced by an instrumental prelude; the second, exceptionally for Vivaldi, makes a pronounced gesture towards a typical French opera overture, with its dotted rhythmic opening and fugal section. Of the five complete recordings of the work, this is the strongest. Sergio Foresti (The Seine) is splendidly robust, while Yetzabel Arias Fernández (The Golden Age) sparkles with vitality. For my ears, though, Martín Oro (Virtue) cannot rival the inimitable contralto Sonia Prina (Naïve OP 30339). This could be the issue that determines your choice.