Vivaldi: Gods, Emperors & Angels

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Concertos, RV 86, 163, 271, 312, 445, 482, 500, 526 & 530
PERFORMER: Pamela Thorby (recorder), Peter Whelan (bassoon), Sara Deborah Struntz (violin); La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler (violin)


Adrian Chandler has compiled a varied programme of concertos, some of them off the beaten track. The two concertos from Vivaldi’s unpublished La cetra set come over well, one of them, L’Amoroso, familiar from an alternative manuscript version.

These and the Concerto in B flat for two violins from the other La cetra set, published in 1727 as the composer’s Op. 9, are enlivened by sprightly tempos in the outer movements and by eloquently punctuated phrases. Of all Vivaldi’s printed sets La cetra provides, for my ears at least, the greatest satisfaction and La Serenissima does it full justice. 

Two fragmentary concertos for respectively bassoon and sopranino recorder are of interest, though two entire works for each instrument hold greater rewards. Particularly charming is the seductive Largo of the Bassoon Concerto in A minor, RV500, mellifluously played by Peter Whelan.

A single Sonata in A minor for treble recorder and bassoon, RV 86, interrupts the concerto sequence. Vivaldi calls for virtuosity from both players in this beautifully-crafted four-movement work; Whelan with Pamela Thorby provide an evenly balanced partnership with plenty of tasteful ornaments.


I wish I could be as enthusiastic about the Sopranino Recorder Concerto in A minor but it fails to cut the mustard in this quarter. A lively Concerto for ripieno strings, subtitled Conca (Conch), completes a delicately coloured sequence of pieces. Nicholas Anderson