Back in 2002, conductor Andrea Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra hit the highway for their first extended U.S. tour — and they packed more than just their instruments. Their bus was stocked with 15 kilos of pasta, Italian pots and pans, and even their own espresso machine.
Hear the Venice Baroque Orchestra, with solo violinist Giuliano Carmignola, play Vivaldi in Boston.
The Venice Baroque Orchestra, with leader Andrea Marcon, specializes in music of its city's famous native son: Antonio Vivaldi.
The Venice Baroque Orchestra, with leader Andrea Marcon, specializes in music of its city's famous native son: Antonio Vivaldi. Harold Hoffman/Deutschegrammophon
But the essential ingredient of that tour was the music of Antonio Vivaldi. The group played nothing but Vivaldi around the country, and now, many tours and many recordings later, the music of the native Venetian is still a staple for the band. The orchestra, with longtime collaborator Giuliano Carmignola (violin soloist), stopped at Boston's Emmanuel Church earlier this year to perform another all-Vivaldi concert.
Group leader and keyboardist Marcon could be described as a Vivaldi evangelist. He's convinced that the composer has mistakenly acquired a bad reputation.
"I'm trying to change a wrong image of Vivaldi," he says. "The wrong image of a composer who has written the same music 500 times." Vivaldi, Marcon says, was actually a great pioneer.
"The concertos of Vivaldi are really like Beethoven's solo concertos, where the soloist plays such a dominant role," Marcon says. "That was not the case before Vivaldi. So he did give a great impulse to the evolution of the baroque style."
Venice Baroque, with Carmignola, has given feisty performances of Vivaldi classics such as The Four Seasons, but it's also shed light on many rarely heard pieces. In many cases, these are concertos from late in Vivaldi's career, written for private patrons — bought and sold like paintings, and not for instant public appeal.
For this Boston appearance, the band plays a mix of concertos for strings and some that feature Carmignola in the spotlight, all directed by Marcon, seated at the harpsichord.