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Venetian Christmas - Works of Vivaldi, Torelli, Hasse & Perotti / Ruby Hughes, soprano; Komalé Akakpo, psaltery; Ewa Golinksa, violin; Arte Dei Suonatori; Gester

Album Summary

>Vivaldi, Antonio : Il Riposo per il Santissimo Natale
>Vivaldi, Antonio : Giustino, RV 717
>Vivaldi, Antonio : Double Concerto, for violin & organ, strings & continuo in C major (incomplete), RV 774
>Hasse, Johann A. : Alma Redemptoris Mater, for voice & orchestra
>Vivaldi, Antonio : Concerto for Violin, strings & continuo in E major, RV 266
>Perotti, Fulgenzio : Sonata for psaltery & basso continuo in G major
>Vivaldi, Antonio : Salve Regina, antiphon for voice, violin, strings & continuo in F major, RV 617
>Torelli, Giuseppe : Concerto a 4 in forma di Pastorale per il Santissimo Natale, for 2 violins, cello & continuo in G mi
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composers

Notes & Reviews:

In Venice in the 18th century, Christmas was celebrated as only Venetians know how to celebrate: according to one account, more wax was burnt to light up the three storeys of the Procuratie on Christmas Eve, than in all the rest of Italy in an entire year. At the same time, rather than being an independent feast - and as such, the most singularly important one of the year - the Venetian Christmas was also part of the city's famous Carnevale, which at this time lasted for almost six months. This lent a rather special character to the celebrations, compared with for instance the more clerically inclined Rome. We know that much of the Christmas festivities - in churches, in the streets or at private parties - involved music, but very little of the actual repertoire has been identified. Possibly this is also a reflection of the role of Christmas in Venice - although a festive occasion, it wasn't an isolated one, and much of the music heard at Christmas would or could be played on suitable feast days throughout the year. Together with the soloists Ruby Hughes and Komalé Akakpo, Martin Gester and Arte dei Suonatori have constructed a colorful program of music that we either know or can easily conjecture was being played during a typical Venetian Christmas. Naturally it includes music by Antonio Vivaldi, the city's great son, as well as by Johann Adolph Hasse, who throughout his life was a regular visitor, and who spent his last ten years there. It also features the psaltery or salterio, an instrument beloved by the Venetians, heard here as solo as well as continuo instrument. Three of the works by Vivaldi are performed in versions prepared by Olivier Fourès, and are recorded here for the first time, including the Andante 'Il Riposo per il Santissimo Natale' with Ewa Golinska, co-leader of Arte dei Suonatori, as violin soloist.

BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2014
Some tenuous theming here, but who cares when the music-making - tart and spicy on period-instruments - is so appealing?

Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 1st December 2014
This 'educated guess' programme of vocal works and concerti by Vivaldi, Hasse, Torelli and Perotti (all composers with Venetian connections) brings much pleasure and is played with verve on authentic instruments by Arte Dei Suonatori. The agile, warm-toned British soprano Ruby Hughes...is engaging in Hasse and Vivaldi, and a special delight is the presence of the psaltery in the first few tracks.

MusicWeb International, 9th December 2014
[Hughes's] part in this CD leaves nothing to be desired...This disc's connection to Christmas seems rather loose, but it is a most interesting and musically rewarding production anyway. It can be played at any time of the year.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Kosciól Ewangelicki sw. Jana s Mikolowie, Nikolów, Pola (10/2013).



Reviews

Venetian Christmas a joy year round

Don't let the title mislead you. Yes, it is a compilation of music that was probably played during the Christmas season in Venice during the 1750's. But there's nothing that would make it sound "seasonal" to modern ears.

Many of the selections feature the psaltery, an ancestor of the hammered dulcimer. The soft, warm tones of the struck psaltery strings give the music a different cast then that of a harpsichord's harsher plucked-strong sound.

Works by Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi make up much of the program (as they probably did in Venetian concerts of the day). Also included is a concerto grosso by Torelli and a sonata for psaltery by Fulgenzio Perotti, a composer and psaltery teacher.

This is a beautifully recorded SACD that takes full advantage of the technology. The psaltery is a soft-spoken instrument, and Komale Akakpo's expressive playing makes it sound luminous.

Soprano Ruby Hughes sings Hasse's Alma Redemptoris Mater and Vivaldi's Salve Regina with warmth and sensitivity. And the SACD preserves the fine details of violinist Ewa Golinska's delicate phrasing and gives the ensemble sound of the Arte dei Suonatori real depth.

I didn't receive this recording for review until well after Christmas. But no matter. It was a pleasure to listen to, and I anticipate it will continue to be in late summer. This is one seasonal disc that is anything but.

Submitted on 02/12/15 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Vivaldi, Antonio : Il Riposo per il Santissimo Natale :: Andante, RV 270a (alternative slow movement)
  • Performers: Komale Akakpo (Psaltery); Ewa Golinska (Violin)
  • Conductor: Martin Gester
  • Ensemble: Arte dei Suonatori
  • Running Time: 2 min. 9 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: by 1742

>Vivaldi, Antonio : Giustino, RV 717 :: Aria
  • Performers: Komale Akakpo (Psaltery); Ruby Hughes (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Martin Gester
  • Running Time: 6 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1724

>Vivaldi, Antonio : Double Concerto, for violin & organ, strings & continuo in C major (incomplete), RV 774
  • Performers: Komale Akakpo (Psaltery); Martin Gester (Organ)
  • Conductor: Martin Gester
  • Running Time: 4 min. 54 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: by 1742

>Hasse, Johann A. : Alma Redemptoris Mater, for voice & orchestra
  • Performer: Ruby Hughes (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Martin Gester
  • Running Time: 12 min. 30 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Form: Christmas

>Vivaldi, Antonio : Concerto for Violin, strings & continuo in E major, RV 266
  • Performer: Ewa Golinska (Violin)
  • Conductor: Martin Gester
  • Running Time: 5 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: by 1742

>Perotti, Fulgenzio : Sonata for psaltery & basso continuo in G major
  • Performers: Komale Akakpo (Psaltery); Martin Gester (Organ); Tomasz Pokrzywinski (Cello); Dohyo Sol (Archlute)
  • Conductor: Martin Gester
  • Running Time: 13 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Form: Christmas

>Vivaldi, Antonio : Salve Regina, antiphon for voice, violin, strings & continuo in F major, RV 617
  • Performer: Ruby Hughes (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Martin Gester
  • Running Time: 8 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: by 1742

>Torelli, Giuseppe : Concerto a 4 in forma di Pastorale per il Santissimo Natale, for 2 violins, cello & continuo in G mi
  • Conductor: Martin Gester
  • Running Time: 6 min. 54 sec.
  • Period Time: Baroque
  • Form: Christmas