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 Recording of the Week  The Vivaldi Edition

One of the most ambitious recording projects ever undertaken is the Vivaldi Edition, conceived by the Italian musicologist Alberto Basso back in 2000. He gained support from the independent label Opus 111 (which almost before the series began was acquired by Naïve) and over the last nine years has released over thirty volumes of rare Vivaldi masterpieces. There is still a long way to go though, the original objective being to record all the 450 works preserved in the massive collection of autograph manuscripts held in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Turin.

Striking cover designs in the Vivaldi Edition
Striking cover designs in the Vivaldi Edition

The really incredible thing about this collection of manuscripts is that it is almost certainly exactly the same as the collection of scores that Vivaldi had in his home in Vienna when he died in 1741. Usually over the years such a large collection will get gradually split up, sold off, partially lost and sometimes destroyed. So the fact that this collection of manuscripts is all together in one place over 250 years later is quite remarkable and highly unusual.

The Vivaldi Edition's goal is to make this extraordinary wealth of music available to the public and at the same time to reveal the full genius of Vivaldi, not only as a composer of instrumental music, for which he was already known, but as the creator of some of the 18th-century's most exhilarating vocal music.

Vivaldi devoted a major part of his career to composing operas and I think it is probably this area of his output that is gaining most from the Vivaldi Edition. These works have often not even been performed in recent times (let alone recorded), and to me they demonstrate that Vivaldi’s genius as a composer is far greater than that demonstrated in his popular concertos. The musical factors that make his Four Seasons so outstanding are the rhythmic vitality and the instrumental colours. Well, in his operas these same ingredients produce a dramatic quality far in advance of its time, and evoke the moods and feelings of the characters in a way that probably wouldn’t be matched again until Mozart.

I’ve enjoyed almost all this series to date, and eagerly await the new discovery that each new release brings. I mention it particularly today as we’ve just started a special offer on the whole of the Naïve label, so you can currently enjoy this series, as well as the numerous other outstanding recordings from the Naïve catalogue at 20% off.


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