Vivaldi: La Senna festeggiante

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LABELS: Warner Fonit
WORKS: La Senna festeggiante
PERFORMER: Lella Cuberli (soprano), Helga Müller-Molinari (mezzo-soprano), Siegmund Nimsgern (bass); Cappella Coloniensis/Claudio Scimone
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-84090-2 AAD Reissue (1978)
La Senna festeggiante (The River Seine ‘en fête’) is the most extended and musically the most interesting of three serenatas which Vivaldi composed during the 1720s. The form lies somewhere between opera and dramatic cantata, was usually written for two to four voices and had an occasional function. La Senna festeggiante is scored for three voices and celebrates the French royal house of Bourbon during the early years of Louis XV’s reign. The precise occasion for which Vivaldi wrote it, however, is unknown. The libretto by Domenico Lalli, whom Vivaldi set on several occasions is conventionally effusive in its praise of the monarch but Vivaldi’s music, over which he evidently took great care, rises pretty consistently above commonplace sentiments. Each of its two parts is introduced by an overture, the first an Italian sinfonia, the second a French ‘Ouverture’ in name and in character suggesting, perhaps, that the work was intended for a French audience. Much of the vocal interest is contained in the music of La Senna, a bass role with a strikingly wide range of more than two octaves. But the two soprano roles are not lacking in beguiling arias and duets and the work, taken as a whole, offers an impressive example of Vivaldi’s skill in the dramatic sphere, albeit in miniature. The singers are accomplished and the performance must rank among Claudio Scimone’s best sustained achievements on disc. Nicholas Anderson