Vivaldi: La Senna festeggiante

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LABELS: Opus 111
WORKS: La Senna festeggiante
PERFORMER: Juanita Lascarro (soprano), Sonia Prina (mezzo-soprano), Nicola Ulivieri (bass); Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
This new recording of Vivaldi’s serenata La Senna festeggiante, a contribution to Opus 111’s recently launched Vivaldi Edition, joins two others currently available in Europe. The River Seine Rejoicing is musically the best sustained of Vivaldi’s three surviving serenatas, whose concept lies somewhere between a dramatic chamber cantata and an opera. This one, probably composed during the early to mid-1720s, celebrates the crowning of Louis XV, but also, it would seem, the passing of the dissolute but by no means uncultivated regency of Philippe, Duke of Orleans. The text, by Domenico Lalli, whose texts Vivaldi used on a number of occasions, pays wholehearted homage to the French king and, in a general way, eulogises Paris, too. It’s a delightful piece, even if the story-line, generously speaking, is a bit thin. Each of its two parts is introduced by engaging orchestral movements; indeed, the second of them, exceptionally for Vivaldi, is cast somewhat in the manner of a typical French opera overture, with its characteristic dotted rhythmic opening and following fugal section. The three singers, Juanita Lascarro (soprano), Sonia Prina (alto) and Nicola Ulivieri (bass), are excellent, and so is the orchestra under Rinaldo Alessandrini’s lively direction. The performance comfortably outstrips the opposition – Claudio Scimone (Warner) and Martin Gester (Accord) – though its tempi are, on occasion, a shade hard-pressed. The grinning cover picture makes it look like a toothpaste advert.