Classic Mornings

By The Revolving Stage Door

classic morning logo bird

I was holding my breath. That happens when I first listen to an unfamiliar “Vivaldi violinist”.

And then, I was excited about introducing a recording featuring violinist Julien Chauvin, who’s from France. He’s the music director of an ensemble which originated in the 18th century, and which he revived. It’s called: Le Concert de la Loge (The Consort of the Lodge). Their 2019 recording has just come into the Friends of WILL Library. It’s from a series called “The Vivaldi Edition,” which is part of an ongoing project to record some 450 works by the composer, from manuscripts in the National University Library of Turin, Italy. The series features a variety of early music ensembles. This particular CD of violin concertos is titled “il teatro” which means “the theatre” (Naïve 30585).

In the recording notes by music historian and critic Cesare Fertonani, we’re reminded that Vivaldi loved writing operas. Yet the circumstances of his life and work resulted in his composing lots of instrumental music – concertos and sonatas. The recording celebrates the interrelatedness of Vivaldi’s operas and instrumental music. Dramatic and lyrical influences are very much a part of his instrumental music. And his operas include careful orchestration, which Vivaldi had learned from composing so many concertos and sonatas. Fertonani reminds us that Vivaldi also relied upon borrowings, reworkings, quotations and analogies from his own music.

The CD includes one of the works written for Vivaldi’s favorite pupil: Anna Maria (1696-1782). She was the most famous musician at the Ospedale della Pietà. That’s the orphanage at which Vivaldi taught, led the orchestra, and composed music. Vivaldi wrote 31 concertos for her. According to Fertonani, Anna Maria became well-known and admired for her artistry throughout Europe. Besides being a violin virtuoso, she played the viola d’amore, cello, harpsichord, mandolin, lute, and theorbo.

Sophie Dervaux plays the bassoon. In fact, she’s principal bassoon of the Vienna Philharmonic. She’s also principal bassoon of the Vienna State Opera Orchestra. Before that, she was principal contrabassoon (also known as double bassoon, which is a bass instrument) of the Berlin Philharmonic.  Bassoonists, and even principal bassoonists, don’t get a lot of attention. Sophie Dervaux has been getting a bit of attention. She was born in a suburb of Paris and has been with the Vienna orchestras since 2015. We recently acquired a recording she made last year with the Munich Chamber Orchestra. It features bassoon concertos by Johann Christian Bach and Michael Haydn. (Berlin Classics 0302347)

With two performers joining the Classic Mornings roster, I noticed recently that two performers have announced their retirement. In anticipation of English pianist Kathryn Stott’s 65th birthday on December 10, I visited her home page. She had posted this message in September: “I have enjoyed the most wonderful and fulfilling career as a concert pianist, but from the end of December 2024, I will no longer be giving public performances in a professional capacity. Music will always be a huge part of my life and I intend to continue my work with young musicians - they are our future. I look forward to this final chapter on the concert platform and hope you’ll join me along the way.”

I’m not sure what made me check out the home page of The 5 Browns recently. There I learned that Ryan Brown, the youngest member of the ensemble of sibling pianists, is retiring at age 36 – from performing. No, they won’t become The 4 Browns. They’ll be joined by pianist Stephen Beus, who won the 2006 Gina Bachauer Piano Competition, and who’s a professor at Brigham Young University. He was a classmate of The 5 Browns at Julliard. And he’s a fourth cousin, according to the group. That’s still family.

András Schiff turns 70 this week (December 21). I listened to a bit of an online interview, in which he shared memories of beginning studies at the Franz Liszt Conservatory with György Kurtag. He remembered being humbled into thinking he couldn’t play the piano and that he knew nothing about Bach. It’s hard to believe he ever struggled with Bach. It’s the 30th anniversary of his recordings of the “French Suites.” There are some recent recitals online, with Schiff performing the Suites. Simply said, he continues to journey with that music. And he makes it enticing to journey with him as a listener.

Another graduate of the Franz Liszt Conservatory was violinist and conductor Janós Rolla. In 1962, he and fellow students formed the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra. Rolla passed away on December 7 at age 79. He was associated with the ensemble throughout his career. And we continue to listen to some of their many recordings.

We’ve enjoyed quite a treasure of classical music this year. A special thanks to all those whose support has made Classic Mornings possible. Stay tuned!