Reviews

La Serenissima Reviews

‘The Italian Job’ (CD Review)

‘The English, historical-instrument, Baroque ensemble La Serenissima (the term was a nickname for the city of Venice) has specialized in somewhat scholarly recordings that nevertheless retain considerable general appeal, and the group does it again with this release. The program offers some lesser-known composers, and some lesser-known pieces by famous composers like the tiny and fascinating Concerto alla rustica for two oboes, bassoon, strings, and continuo, RV 151. What ties the program together formally is that it covers a range of Italian cities that were becoming cultural centers as they declined in political power: not only Venice (Vivaldi, Albinoni, Caldara), but also Padua (Tartini), Bologna (Torelli), and Rome (Corelli). There are several works by composers known only for one or two big hits, and these are especially rewarding. Sample the opening movement of Tartini’s Violin Concerto E major, DS 51, with its unusual phrase construction and daringly chromatic cadenza passage: it has the exotic quality for which Tartini became famous, but it does not rely on sheer virtuosity. That work is played by leader Adrian Chandler himself, but he also chooses pieces for a large variety of other solo instruments: the Italian Baroque was about more than the violin. Each work on the album has something to recommend it, and collectively the performances may make up the best album of 2017 whose booklet includes footnotes.’

James Manheim – All Music, June 2017

The Four Seasons (concert review)

‘Adrian Chandler’s ensemble revives a unique version of The Four Seasons and presents an avant-garde approach that would have awed Hendrix’

The Guardian, February 2016

Vivaldi – The Four Seasons (CD review)

‘La Serenissima’s fresh approach grows out of The Four Seasons itself. Listeners that usually find the ritornello that launches Autumn a touch twee will be diverted by the energising thrum of the guitar… If the sheer sweep and vivacity captivates, details are just as telling.  The appoggiatura Chandler applies to the end of his first solo entry in Winter plumbs the chill of the grave, and in the perky Largo he delivers an object lesson in how to decorate the music meaningfully.  Two concertos showcasing Peter Whelan’s playfully agile bassoon are paired with two rare concertos for a specially constructed three-string ‘violino in tromba marina’ lending a touch of raucous exoticism.’

BBC Music Magazine, Concerto Choice, Double 5 star review, Christmas Issue, 2015:

The Four Seasons (CD review)

‘Adrian Chandler and his period-instrument ensemble La Serenissima have become well-known through numerous recordings on Avie, and they celebrate their 21st anniversary with this release. There are quite extensive notes in the booklet and Chandler has created a new edition of The Four Seasons based on the only surviving manuscript of these works. While there is plenty of scholarly grounding to this interpretation it is the performance which brings the music to life, something which very much happens here. These concertos are played in period style, but aside from crisply rhythmic style and transparent sonorities there is much in Adrian Chandler’s solo playing alone which will make you want to hear this recording again and again. There is quite a good deal of folk-like style in the performance with little added ornaments, a free and rhapsodic narrative touch where possible, and a general spirit of well-prepared lawlessness that is quite refreshing. Ensemble and soloist find the beauty in the music but one has the impression that this is not their prime objective – nor is it the taking of the performance to pictorial extremes. Yes, the canvas is richly laden with seasonal atmosphere, sparkling weather and the usual animals and characters, but the essence of these performances is that they are massively entertaining on every level. The virtuoso wonders of the soloist are equalled and imitated by the ensemble, and the two sometimes seem locked in a life and death struggle, as in the final Presto of Summer. The sheer joy of musicianship on display here draws us in and keeps us fully engrossed.’

Musicweb International, November 2015:


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