RV97 is a real oddity: a ‘chamber’ concerto without orchestral strings that in other respects adopts all the mannerisms of a ‘concerto con molti istromenti’ in F major, right down to the allusions to hunting calls (and, by extension, to the world of princely courts) associated with horns playing in this key. Vivaldi could well have written the viola d’amore part for himself to play (a recently discovered document records that on 25 April 1717, passing through the town of Cento, he played this instrument at Vespers in the Church of the Holy Name of God, which was ‘so packed with people that they struggled among themselves and spilled out half way into the street’). Another peculiarity is the presence of an introductory slow movement, a feature otherwise almost unknown among Vivaldi’s concertos without orchestra. It is certainly a mature (post-1720) work; I suspect that it was written for an intimate private concert held in honour of some nobleman.
from notes by Michael Talbot © 1998