Critical Acclaim for La Serenissima

  • ‘It’s fascinating to listen to Pisendel’s own unaccompanied Sonata in A with its brilliant bow work ad contrapuntal intricacy, and there is sheer pleasure in Mr. Chandler’s charismatic readings of works by Vivaldi, Montanari and Albinoni.’

    The New York Times, September 10, 2014: Per Monsieur Pisendel 2, (CD review)

  • ‘This is another terrific disc from La Serenissima who provide so much energy, precision and vibrancy in a concert of works that reveals the attractions of composers that aren’t normally given much exposure.’

    The Classical Reviewer, August 2014: Per Monsieur Pisendel 2 (CD Review)

  • ‘With his sumptuous and brilliant readings of two sonatas — one unaccompanied, the other supported by his excellent continuo team — the baroque violinist Chandler demonstrates again the justness of his devotion to the cause of Johann Georg Pisendel…’

    The Sunday Times, August 17, 2014: Per Monsieur Pisendel 2 (CD Review)

  • ‘…effervescent playing, soulful slow movements…’

    BBC Radio 3 ‘CD Review’, August 16, 2014: Per Monsieur Pisendel 2

  • ‘This is a stunning collection of sonatas, imaginatively and sensitively played by Adrian Chandler and excitingly yet equally sensitively accompanied by cello with harpsichord and theorbo…’

    Early Music Review, August 2014: Per Monsieur Pisendel 2 (CD Review)

  • ‘The performances stemmed from direct contact with manuscript sources yet were anything but fusty.  Vivaldi’s style has clearly got into Chandler’s blood, and certainly his bowing arm.  His rapid spiccato string crossing was fairly phenomenal, and the orchestral sound all the more invigorating in this sympathetic acoustic.’

    The Sunday Times, December 2013: Vivaldi — A Tale of Two Seasons Spitalfields Festival (concert review)

  • ‘Chandler’s playing is crisply articulated, tonally secure and imaginative, and the lively responses of the instrumentalists of La Serenissima give uninterrupted pleasure.  These are musicians who quite simply love their Vivaldi and their spirit is contagious.’

    BBC Music Magazine, October 2013: Vivaldi — A Tale of Two Seasons CD review, Recording of the Month

  • ‘All in all, its a superb disc.’

    Time Out/The Week (same review), September 2013: Vivaldi — A Tale of Two Seasons CD review, (maximum star review)

  • ‘Their dedication shines through in technically flawless performances.’

    The Classical Ear, September 2013: Vivaldi — A Tale of Two Seasons CD Review

  • ‘These discriminating performances, with La Serenissima on characteristically lucid, lively form… make for a Vivaldi disc of particularly ear-catching impact.’

    Daily Telegraph, August 2013: Vivaldi - A  Tale of Two Seasons CD Review (Classical Recording of the Week)

  • ‘…there can be very groups to rival the passion of their performances and innovative ingenuity of programming. Bravo!’

    Early Music Today, August 2013: Vivaldi — A Tale of Two Seasons CD review

  • ‘Throughout, the singing and playing are beautifully articulated.’

    The Sunday Times, July 2013: Vivaldi — A Tale of Two Seasons CD review

  • ‘It is an intriguing collection that shows the Red Priest leaping from wide-eyed genius to know-it-all, and in the hands of this renowned period instrument ensemble is orchestrated with fluency and pizzazz.  It is hugely enjoyable.’

    The Daily Express, July , 2013: Vivaldi — A Tale of Two Seasons CD review

  • ‘Simon Munday proves an impeccable trumpeter… His playing is remarkable for its restraint, balancing ideally the strings of La Serenissima, transparent yet lively and energetic.  The clarity of contrapuntal lines in a fugue of four subjects by Veracini is exemplary. […]  With five ‘first recordings’, this is not to be missed.’

    BBC Music Magazine, November 2012 — Venice by Night CD review (5 stars)

  • ‘The recordings, made in the Hospital of St Cross in Winchester, are first class and the notes – with full texts and translations – [are] equally [good]. This engaging journey, whether on land or on sea, proves highly successful.’

    MusicWeb International, October 2012 — Venice by Night CD review

  • ‘…l’ascolto e non solo godibile ma di grande intrattenimento e ricco di sorprese. […]  L’effetto e lo stupore son garantiti da interpretazioni di notevole spessore e d’una liricità incantevole.’

    [‘…listening [to this album] is not only enjoyable, but it is also full of great entertainment and rich in surprises. […] The effect and wonderment are guaranteed by interpretations of substantial and charming lyricism.’]

    Oggi Magazine (USA), September, 2012 — Venice by Night CD review

  • ‘Lawson’s honey-coated singing and the elegant strings perfectly convey the allusion to a smiling soul rejoicing. […] …we are whisked away… towards the Pietà where [La Serenissima] produce a stunning perforamce of a concerto by their on-and-off violin teacher Vivaldi (Adrian Chandler plays with a juxtaposition of energy and refinement).’

    Gramophone Magazine, July 2012 — Venice by Night CD review

  • ‘The difference in attack between La Serenissima and other ochestras was immediately felt, lending vigour to [the] drama…’

    The Independent on Sunday, May 2012: Vivaldi — L’Olimpiade / Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music

  • ‘Some genuine highlights…suavely presented by the period ensemble La Serenissima…’

    The Guardian, May 2012: Vivaldi — L’Olimpiade / Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music

  • ‘Adrian Chandler… wisely eschewed the trend for breakneck tempi in favour of depth and precision… concert performances of this quality should be welcomed…’

    Financial Times, May 2012: Vivaldi — L’Olimpiade / Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music

  • Founder-director Adrian Chandler is phenomenal in terms of concentration, multitasking and energy… His tempi seemed just right for the musical material…’

    Musical Criticism, May 2012: Vivaldi — L’Olimpiade / Lufthasa Festival of Baroque Music

  • ‘A lively cast led by Stephen Gadd, who was outstanding, and the racy, alert musicians of La Serenissima, directed by violinist Adrian Chandler, brought the piece to burgeoning life…’

    The Observer, May 2012: Vivaldi — L’Olimpiade / Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music

  • “La Serenissima remain buoyant and sweet, eschewing the taut and opaque sound of many of today’s baroque orchestras, and embracing something more relaxed and open, helped by a pleasing bloom.”

    Gramophone Magazine, October 2011: Vivaldi — The French Connection 2

  • “Flautist Katy Bircher plays with sensibility and virtuosic flare in the D minor concerto. (…) Its brief, melancholy Larghetto is lovingly caressed by Bircher.  Chandler himself is the soloist in the B flat violin concerto (…) whose lyrical slow movement is the crowning glory of the disc.  Three concertos for strings from a manuscript preserved in the library of the Paris Conservatoire round off an outstanding release.”

    International Record Review, September 2011: Vivaldi — The French Connection 2

  • “I enjoyed the first volume […] but this second one deserves almost unqualified praise. Chandler has put together a fascinating programme […]. Flautist Katy Bircher and Chandler[…] their warm-sounding, eloquently stylish playing is a constant delight. Gail Hennessy’s rounded and mellifluous oboe playing beguilingly caresses the gentle contours of Vivaldi’s melodic line in a way that the older recordings, albeit on modern instruments, failed to do. “

    BBC Music Magazine, 5 stars, September 2011: Vivaldi — The French Connection 2

  • But what WAS good were LDSM’s two opening concerts of Vivaldi.  La Serenissima (whose work you might know, because they record extensively on the Avie label) were fabulous. The eight concertos they played in Kendal Parish Church were bright, fresh, vigorous and engaging. As were the baroque bassoonist Peter Whelan […] and the baroque oboist Leo Duarte, who simply dazzled in one of the no doubt many Vivaldi concerti for his instrument.”

    The Daily Telegraph, August 2011: Concert given at the Lake District Summer Music Festival

  • “The soloists are on impeccable form in their virtuoso concerti.  Who cannot admire the thoughtful, agile playing of Adrian Chandler in his solo concerto, the sensitive flute and oboe playing as well as the astounding virtuoso bassoon performance… The ensemble playing is always well shaped, imaginative and carefully devised, with plenty of Italianate bon gout.”

    Early Music Review, August, 2011: Vivaldi — The French Connection 2

  • “Lake District Summer Music, 2011, opened on a perfect summer evening with a concert by the highly-talented young musicians, La Serenissima, under the inspiring direction of violinist Adrian Chandler….This was a virtuoso performance.  An exciting and graphic account of The Four Seasons.“

    The Lancashire Telegraph, August 2011: Concert given at Lake District Summer Music

  • ”Chandler’s tight control gives freedom not constriction.  The ensemble is spotless even on the whipping string flourishes of Paris Concerto No. 2.  Every detail has meaning.  The tapering bounce in RV 440’s larghetto is beautifully measured where other versions are deadpan.  Flautist Bircher sighs the world premiere’s appogiaturas with a Gallic shrug.  Bassoonist Peter Whelan’s mellifluous raspberry tone makes RV 473 sound like song.  In La Notte (…) the three soloists engage in repartee with smart comic timing. (…) Gail Hennessy, oboe, shapes the Alla Francese in RV 543 as if exhaling a Gauloise.”

    Classic FM Magazine, 5 stars, August 2011: Vivaldi — The French Connection 2

  • ”Anyway, as I say, it’s hard to choose favorite pieces because they’re all so well played. Chandler and La Serenissima play with such finesse, such precision, and yet such rollicking good fun, they make every work on the disc sparkle and come alive. Nor do they need to do it by galloping full speed ahead as some other period-instruments groups do in their pursuit of “authentic” period practices. La Serenissima’s performances always sound comfortable; never cozy or stuffy or sentimental, but just right, just the way you might hum or whistle the pieces (if that was your idea of a good time). They play with animation, resilience, good sense, and passion. It’s a winning combination.”

    Classical Candor, July 2011: Vivaldi — The French Connection 2

  • “Another intriguing, excellently packaged and delivered volume in Chandler’s Vivaldi series. (…) The playing is beautifully articulated, with first-class work from the soloists.”

    The Sunday Times, July 2011: Vivaldi — The French Connection 2

  • “Each of the concertos presented on this disc is a gem, and for keen Vivaldi listeners there is much to treasure and enjoy. The works are beautiful, the performances sensitive, charming and secure. Highlights include the dark yet hauntingly serene middle movement of the Concerto in A RV 440 (track 9). Essentially it’s the harmonic simplicity and heartfelt unity between the players that makes this so beautiful – lots of static, gently pulsating string chords at the opening before flautist Katy Bircher enters with a melody oozing graceful ornamentation. In total contrast, there is the final movement of concerto RV 473. Structured as a Menuet en Rondeau this is the longest track on the disc and features some eight minutes of truly virtuosic baroque bassoon playing. The final concerto, RV 365 for violin, strings and continuo, is the second world premiere recording and shows a close link to the French Overture style of composers like Lully and Charpentier. Its opening Allegro poco is wonderfully performed with many witty and playful solos from Chandler versus and with the rest of the group.”

    McAlister Matheson Music, July 2011: Vivaldi — The French Connection 2

  • “I have to hand it to Chandler: not only is everything here played to a crack standard, but this is the least hackneyed Vivaldi programme I’ve seen in some time.  [This is] even more fun than its predecessor.”

    San Francisco Classical Voice, July 2011: Vivaldi — The French Connection 2

  • “There are plenty of highlights on this superb CD, which features playing of the highest order, inspired composition, a varied programme and a richly detailed recording (witness the wonderful earthiness of the rondo finale of RV473 for bassoon!). A favourite of mine is the Concerto for violin and oboe, RV543. This piece, as new to me as the two world premier recordings, rather unpromisingly requires the soloists to play in unison. Uncharacteristically, it is more akin to a French suite than Italian concerto, having four movements (none of them genuinely slow) and concluding with a Minuet. The result, however, is archetypally, and irresistibly, Vivaldian.

    La Serenissima deserve much credit for their pioneering efforts to extend Vivaldi’s repertoire still further. They play with enthusiasm, panache, wit and historically informed wisdom. The French theme linking the works on this CD might sometimes appear tenuous (RV431a’s manuscript uses French paper!). Never mind: the more important link throughout is quality.”

    amazon.co.uk, June 2011: Vivaldi — The French Connection 2

  • “Most interesting was the concerto Il Gran Mogol for flute, strings and continuo in D minor – a discovery of Chandler’s (sic) that has received its world premiere (and last night its London premiere) with this ensemble. Bircher shaped some elegant lines, articulating the virtuoso passages with soft persuasiveness rather than all-out fire.”

    The Arts Desk, February 2011: Concert at Cadogan Hall, London

  • “Such performances excited the admiration and extended applause from the large and enthusiastic Perth audience.”

    Perthshire Advertiser, January 2011: Concert at Perth Concert Hall

  • “Serenissima planned their all-Vivaldi programme well, opening with a handful of routine concertos and closing with a striking performance of The Four Seasons.” 

    The Guardian, January 2011: Concert at Perth Concert Hall

  • “La Serenissima provides subtle, staccato accompaniment to Whelan’s sumptuous solo line in the gentle largo.(…) In Vivaldi’s Concerto for Sopranino Recorder, Thorby demonstrates incredible agility and breath control as she artfully works her way down the scale.(…) The sparse orchestration in the slow second movement(of Concerto No. 9 in B flat Major) puts the limelight on solo violinists Adrian Chandler and Sara Deborah Struntz, who perform in synchronized unity, anticipating one another’s musical movements. (…)There are eight concertos featured on “Gods, Emperors and Angels,” as well as one lone sonata for recorder and bassoon in a minor. The delightful teamwork of Pamela Thorby and Peter Whelan is captivating in this sonata. I especially enjoy the bassoon’s staccato continuo part as the recorder smoothly sails through the melody in the slow largo. On their new recording, “Gods, Emperors and Angels,” Adrian Chandler and La Serenissima make a convincing case on Vivaldi’s behalf. By bringing to light some of Vivaldi’s rarely heard concertos, this period-instrument ensemble helps to prove that he was one of the most original and innovative composers of the Baroque era. Their performances are nimble and exhilarating, fit for “Gods, Emperors and Angels,” or for regular folks like the rest of us.”

    Minnesota Public Radio, October 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors & Angels

  • “These (La cetra and L’Amoroso) and the Concerto in B flat for two violins from the other La cetra set (…) are enlivened by sprightly tempos in the outer movements and by eloquently punctuated phrases. Of all Vivaldi‟s printed sets La cetra provides, for my ears at least, the greatest satisfaction and La Serenissima does it full justice. Two fragmentary concertos for respectively bassoon and sopranino recorder are of interest, though two entire works for each instrument hold greater rewards. Particularly charming is the seductive Largo of the Bassoon Concerto in A minor, RV500, mellifluously played by Peter Whelan. (…) Vivaldi calls for virtuosity from both players in this beautifully-crafted four-movement work; Whelan with Pamela Thorby provide an evenly balanced partnership with plenty of tasteful ornaments. (…) A lively Concerto for ripieno strings, subtitled Conca (Conch), completes a delicately coloured sequence of pieces.”

    BBC Music Magazine, September 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors & Angels

  •  “Vivaldi scholar Chandler leads his group La Serenissima in three concerti from the La Cetra („The Lyre‟) set, written to flatter an emperor. Chandler gently solos in the affettuoso Concerto No.10, „L‟Amoroso‟, adding his own bright cadenza. In Concertos Nos 6 and 9 he duets with Struntz, now in abrasive slanging match, now in magical shadow. The disc opens with the „Conca‟ Concerto, the strings imitating the crude octaves of the noisy sea-shell. Thorby and Whelan blow solo works before combining in amorous high-low displays in a double concerto. Double the fun.”

    ClassicFM Magazine, September 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors & Angels

  • “(…)Peter Whelan and Pamela Thorby make a wonderfully free and easy pairing in the sonata, while in her sopranino concerto Thorby shows off her supreme nimbleness and elfin charm; this is music that has sounded coldly mechanical in other hands, yet Thorby’s personality and piper’s box of subtle ornamental tricks give it a vocal vitality. Chandler himself is the soloist in the velvety L’Amoroso concerto, playing it with love all right (…). With La Serenissima offering their usual bright but lightly cushioned sound, this is another disc from them of no-nonsense joy in the Vivaldian world. This is music-making to cherish.”

    Gramophone Magazine, September 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors & Angels

  •  “La Serenissima plays this little gem (Conca) with precision and flair. (…) He (Adrian Chandler) and his orchestra bring immense grace to the lilting opening movement (L’Amoroso), a magical contemplative stillness to the lovely Largo/Cantabile and irrepressible exuberance to the joyous final Allegro. Chandler’s cadenza in this last movement is also a model of its kind.”

    International Record Review, July/August 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors and Angels

  • “There’s the concerto in a minor for sopranino recorder, given a virtuosic performance by Pamela Thorby.  Peter Whelan is the soloist in an elegant performance of the bassoon concerto, RV 500.  Both of these players match persuasively in the sonata for recorder and bassoon, RV 86. (…)

    Chandler himself is the dynamic soloist in the violin concerto L’Amoroso and, even in this, one of the more conventional works on the album, the ensemble plays Vivaldi as vividly and freely as jazz.”

    WQXR Radio, July 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors & Angels

  •  “The most notable pieces are those featuring woodwind as lead instrument. The transformation of the bassoon in his Concerto for Bassoon, Strings & Continuo is remarkable: scuttling around the strings in the first part like a retainer fussing around its Lord, before becoming lordly itself in the Largo. But it’s Pamela Thorby’s lead role in the Concerto for Sopranino Recorder, Strings & Continuo that dazzles, a virtuoso performance.”

    The Independent, June 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors & Angels

  •  “This is a Vivaldi recital of wonderful contrasts, played with fizzing energy, crisply articulated, vividly coloured and passionate. Chandler and Sara Deborah Struntz give two double violin concertos, all terrific pieces. The bizarre Concerto Conca, RV163, opens the disc, its name referring to the conch shell that was the Tritons’ musical instrument. There’s also a concerto for sopranino recorder, RV445, brilliantly if piercingly played by Pamela Thorby, and a suave performance by Peter Whelan of the bassoon concerto, RV500. Both of these players combine winningly in the beautifully balanced sonata, RV86.”

    The Times, June 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors & Angels

  •  ” Does lightning strike twice? For La Serenissima playing Vivaldi, it certainly does. The ensemble’s director, Adrian Chandler, has a happy way with programme planning. The watchword on this new collection is diversity.

    There’s an “amorous” violin concerto (in E, RV271, with Chandler himself as soloist), writing for bassoon (the Irish player, Peter Whelan) that combines jaw-dropping agility with the almost baleful tone of the baroque bassoon, and works for the piping tones of the sopranino recorder (Pamela Thorby).

    The opening concert (in B flat, RV163), was written in imitation of the sounds of a conch. Chandler and his players match the extremes of Vivaldi’s musical imagination with chutzpah of their own. A real pleasure.”

    The Irish Times, May 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors & Angels

  •  “Gorgeous, gorgeous playing…. This recording is glorious!”

    Simon Bates, Classic FM, CD of the Week, May 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors & Angels

  •  “Chandler and his forces, delivering their eighth imaginative album for Avie, play like gods, emperors and angels indeed, further securing their exalted place in the realms of early music performance.”

    mdt.co.uk, May 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors & Angels

  •  “After indulging in a little too much heady Wagner and Ysaÿe, listening to this compilation of nine Vivaldi concertos and sonatas induced sensations of blessed relief. There’s never a hint of routine in the execution; it’s all stylishly pointed and the solo playing had me grinning. Only one work exceeds the 10-minute mark, and it’s remarkable how much musical event is packed into these jewel-like works. It’s unfair to single out any soloist’s contribution, but Peter Whelan’s baroque bassoon playing has a woody, plangent tone and Pamela Thorby’s phrasing and shading are a thing of wonder, even as she’s hitting the heights on a tiny sopranino recorder. A bracing and enjoyable listen, especially if you’ve never got beyond The Four Seasons and need to broaden your horizons.”

    The Arts Desk, May 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors & Angels

  •  The playing of Adrian Chandler and his crack period-instrument band La Serenissima emulates the title of their eighth release for Avie, mining the treasures of Vivaldi’s vast output.

    Amazon.co.uk, May 2010: Vivaldi — Gods, Emperors & Angels

  •  “Vivaldi’s French side is explored with great skill and taste by La Serenissima. [The concertos] are played with skill and taste… The orchestral sound, as always with La Serenissima, achieves bright attractiveness and vivacity.“

    Gramophone Magazine, Editor’s Choice, October 2009: Vivaldi — The French Connection 

  •  “La Serenissima plays crisply and with rhythmic buoyancy in these fine pieces… The F major Bassoon Concerto, RV488 … comes off splendidly in Peter Whelan’s fluent, often playful account… Katy Bircher’s warmly rounded sound is a constant delight, as is the lively, sympathetic string support.“

    International Record Review, September 2009: Vivaldi — The French Connection

  •  ”…this is a disc to leave you with a spring in your step.“

    The Irish Times, August 2009: Vivaldi — The French Connection

  • “Chandler, flautist Katy Bircher and bassoonist Peter Whelan play a further series of exacting concertos with the effortless musicality of birds.“
    The Independent on Sunday, July 2009

  • “…this is a disc to leave you with a spring in your step.“
    The Irish Times (5 stars) — August 2009

  • “…in spite of the recent rise of new Italian groups promoting Vivaldi’s music… the United Kingdom can provide stiff competition: La Serenissima under Chandler’s direction gives lively, colourful performances, eschewing the extreme mannerisms of wild dynamic contrasts and eccentric tempos that have marred some recent Vivaldi recordings.

    “The performances on all three discs are of a consistently high standard. The playing of La Serenissima is crisp and focused, full of bounce and energy, and the recordings from Avie are clean and nicely balanced. Adrian Chandler’s solo playing is at times breathtaking: he meets all the virtuoso demands head on but is always fully in control. He is exciting in passages of rapid string crossing or flying semiquavers in the highest positions, yet gently lyrical, with a sweetness and warmth of tone in the slow movements.”

    Eighteenth Century Music Magazine, September 2009