Tales from the Stave – Vivaldi Gloria
Antonio Vivaldi’s reputation in the early years of the 20th century rested on a limited amount of printed material, largely for the violin, some of it made popular by arrangements by Bach. That was all to change in the 1920’s and 30’s with the discovery of the composer’s own archive which had been hidden from public view for over two hundred years.
Now housed in the National Library of Turin, this new discovery propelled Vivaldi into the front rank of Baroque composers and in this country one of his most popular and appealing pieces is the choral classic the Gloria. It’s thought that it was composed to mark a Venetian victory against the Turks exactly three hundred years ago in 1716.
Frances Fyfield and her team, Nigel Simeone, the local scholar Corrado Rollin and the Soprano Francesca Lanza get the chance to explore the Vivaldi archive and find the Gloria bound in with a slew of other pieces. The Gloria itself with its high energy opening, its beautiful choral writing and the borrowings from other composers in the later movements underlines Vivaldi’s ability to compose for the forces at his disposal in Venice’s convent, orphanage and music school the Ospedale della Pietà.
It also allows for the celebration of Dr Alberto Gentili, the Turin archivist who fell foul of Mussolini’s anti-Semitic laws before his discovery of the Vivaldi archive was first heard in a special concert in 1939 – reviewed enthusiastically by, amongst others, the American poet Ezra Pound.