Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Andante
Movement 3: Allegro
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