Vivaldi - La Serenissima - Gramophone

"L'Amore per Elvira" is the title La Serenissima have given this disc, referring to the fact that the three chamber cantatas it includes deal with the ups and downs of love for a lady of that name. Put together they tell a neat little story; the lover timidly declares his feelings; the lover must go on a journey and makes a tearful farewell; the lover returns for a joyous reunion. Each consists of a pair of recitatives and arias, and while the latter are full of the kind of striking and demanding vocal writing we have learnt to expect from Vivaldi, it is the opening recitatives which seem most determined to grab the attention. From the trembling trills at the start of Tremori al braccio or the slightly overwrought Elvira anima mia to the excitable Lungi del vago volto, each sets the mood for its ensuing cantata with memorable boldness and imagination.

Mhairi Lawson brings to them her characteristically bright and powerful tone and strong sense of drama. The three instrumental works which interleave with the cantatas on this disc, and which Adrian Chandler presents with an engaging combination of keen-edged incisiveness and silky tone.

Amid the current welter of Vivaldi recordings, however, there is no doubt that with well programmed and performed releases such as this, La Serenissima are winning an important place for themselves.

01 January 2007