Venice: The Golden Age

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COMPOSERS: Marcello,Porta & Tessarini,Vivaldi
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Venice: The Golden Age
WORKS: Concertos by Vivaldi, Marcello, Porta and Tessarini
PERFORMER: Xenia Löffler (Baroque oboe); Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/ Georg Kallweit (violin)

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Here, in all its radiant apparel, is the splendour of Venice’s golden age, music which evokes pictures and memories of canals, piazzas and glorious Palladian architecture. More specifically it is a celebration of her illustrious composer, Vivaldi, with appearances by Alessandro Marcello, Giovanni Porta, the violin virtuoso Carlo Tessarini and the conductor Uri Rom, whose pasticcio composed in 2013 is based on pieces by Vivaldi and Tessarini. This is dedicated to the oboist Xenia Löffler, who plays a major role as soloist in six of the eight works. Löffler is a fine performer with a rounded, mellow tone and remarkable dexterity.

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Some of the music will be unfamiliar to readers. I doubt if Porta’s Sinfonia for strings, oboe and bassoon has been previously recorded, nor an Overture from Tessarini’s La Stravaganza, Op. 4. Another rarity is Vivaldi’s four-movement Concerto for violin, oboe and strings, RV Anh.18. Here, as in the elaborately scored Concerto which he wrote for the Dresden court, RV 576, Löffler is partnered by Georg Kallweit who also leads the excellent Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. Vivaldi’s Concerto in E minor for strings, with its taut fugal opening, and a C major Oboe Concerto, completes a captivating musical portrait of La Serenissima, whose distinctive colours and rhythmic energy suffuse this disc. Nicholas Anderson