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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67361/2
Recording details: February 2002
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: November 2002
Total duration: 5 minutes 56 seconds

'King directs strong performances of both works, with all the familiar virtues of his sacred music series in evidence, from its bright energy to its shrewdly selected soloists and perfectly judged recordings … Make no mistake, if you are a Vivaldi-lover you will want La Senna Festeggiante' (Gramophone)

'This is Vivaldi at his very best, and these crisp, enthusiastic performances recapture the splendour of the original celebrations' (The Daily Telegraph)

'It is seldom anything other than a complete pleasure to receive a Hyperion issue and this release certainly maintains their enviable standard … the whole ensemble is its usual alert and musical self. Full marks and thanks to all concerned' (Early Music Review)

'Vivaldi's finest secular vocal work, lifted out of the ordinary by its unusual French accent, plethora of top-notch arias, and lasting not a moment too long. Strongly recommended' (International Record Review)

'They bring punch and gaiety to brilliantly entertaining music' (The Times)

'Robert King teases immaculate phrasing and sensitive playing from the superb King’s Consort … Baroque paradise' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Delightful performances … the feelgood factor that conductor Robert King achieves in La Senna Festeggiante is infectious' (The Irish Times)

'King’s performance can be placed straightaway at the summit of these works’ discography … The King’s Consort quivers with emotion … Superb!' (Goldberg)

'Under Robert King, the British group produces instrumental sonorities simultaneously intimate and lush' (Opera News)

'Robert King leads his ensemble with what can only be called joy, with the Baroque instruments recorded brightly and played with expertise' (ClassicsToday.com)

Sinfonia in C major, RV116
composer

Allegro  [2'44]
Andante  [1'48]
Allegro  [1'24]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In 1723, after a fourteen-year break in diplomatic relations, the French monarchy posted to Venice a new ambassador, Jacques-Vincent Languet, Count of Gergy. Languet managed to reoccupy the traditional Palais de France, situated on the Fondamenta della Madonna dell’Orto and facing out across the lagoon to the mainland. (Today, this building is the Grand Hotel ‘Palazzo dei Dogi’.) As a matter of course, he celebrated there every year the feast of St Louis on 25 August, thereby honouring not only the patron saint of his country but also its monarch.

Vivaldi may have made contact with Languet earlier, but the first commission of which we have certain knowledge is that for the wedding serenata, RV687, written to commemorate the nuptials of Louis XV and the Polish princess Maria Leszczyska and performed in the evening of 12 September 1725 in a loggia (still standing) at the end of the ambassador’s garden. At very short notice, Languet organised a magnificent festa, which was minutely reported not only in a handwritten account in Italian for circulation among the ambassador’s friends (the British Library in London possesses a copy of this relazione interleaved in the correspondence of the Roman cardinal Filippo Antonio Gualtieri) but also in the Mercure de France for October 1725, where we read: ‘After the ball there was a serenata, whose words, suited to the subject [of the festivities], were much praised, and the music was by Signor Vivaldi, who is the best composer in Venice’.

Vivaldi’s very hastily written autograph score of the serenata today lacks the fascicle containing the introductory sinfonia and, with it, the title of the serenata. As in operas, sinfonias were very necessary accessories for serenatas, since in addition to providing some very welcome purely instrumental music, they acted as ‘noise-killers’, alerting the audience to the start of the performance. For the present recording, a rarely heard sinfonia in C major, RV116, in the usual three movements has been selected. The choice lay, effectively, between C major and B flat major, since minor-key sinfonias are very rare, and Vivaldi always avoids making the first chord of the opening recitative (here, F major) the same as the tonic chord of the preceding sinfonia.

The two characters in this serenata are Imeneo (Hymen, the god of marriage) and La Gloria (Glory, the attribute of the French monarch). There is really no ‘plot’: the two characters simply vie with one another in heaping enconiums on the young couple. La Gloria leads off by descending to earth and inviting Louis to welcome his Polish bride in a pompous aria (‘Alle amene franche arene’) thematically related to one in Vivaldi’s recent opera Giustino (1724) and to the first movement of his concerto for two horns RV538. Imeneo then invites the princess to share the marriage bed and reminds her of the duties of a good wife in a strangely restless aria in C minor (‘Tenero fanciulletto’). The wedding congratulations continue in strict rotation until the two cheerleaders join forces in a lively duet, ‘Vedrò sempre la pace’. Two further arias (prepared, as always, by recitatives) arrive, and we at last reach the climax of the serenata: the final recitative. By tradition, this is the point at which the joyful occasion is summed up – the anonymous poet even manages to squeeze in a tribute to Languet himself for hosting the festa – and its ‘message’ is delivered in definitive form. This celebration, sings La Gloria, will remain indelibly etched in human memory. It remains only for the couple to sing a final duet, ‘In braccio de’ contenti’, which is another borrowing from Giustino.

from notes by Michael Talbot © 2002

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