Flying Home with Vivaldi and Sol Gabetta

Close your eyes… ©Charles Thibo

I am flying a several thousand feet. I am returning home. A busy, one-day-trip. Mission accomplished. The last leg. I am returning home. Vivaldi. The Argentinian cellist Sol Gabetta and her ensemble struggle against the monotone noise of the two PW 150A turboprops. Serenity descents on me while I enjoy the Italian’s Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra, RV 423. I am flying home. The best feeling ever. My family is waiting for me. I am flying home.

Vivaldi wrote some 500 concertos. I’ll let that sink in. 500 concertos. Gabetta recorded some of the best of his works for cello, strings and basso continuo for her Vivaldi project. RV 423, written in B-flat major, is one of my absolute favourites. Festive, full of anticipation and joy. Just the kind of music to accompany a dull flight and to prepare me for my return.

Michael Talbot writes in a piece for Oxford Music Online that “[Vivaldi] employed many special colouristic effects, such as muting and pizzicato, and paid exceptional attention for his time to the nuances of string articulation and bowing.” This is certainly valid for this wonderful concerto and Sol Gabetta’s performance. Nuanced, sensitive, delicate, forceful and energetic when it’s needed, and of an incredible lightness. For many of Vivaldi’s concertos the date of composition is unknown and the time when this piece saw the light isn’t known either. On the homepage of a reseller I found the mention “composed before 1742”. I hope so, since Vivaldi died in July 1741.

“Vivaldi was praised more readily by his contemporaries as a violinist than as a composer”, writes Talbot. Nevertheless, once the composer had started to publish his compositions, he quickly became very popular, mostly in northern Europe, where there was an insatiable demand for the latest Italian music. Nowhere was the enthusiasm for Vivaldi’s concertos stronger than in Germany; Johann Sebastian Bach transcribed several of them. And the Venician set new standards. According to Talbot, “in matters of texture and orchestration, [Vivaldi] often presaged techniques of the later 18th-century symphonists”.

We have started our descent towards Luxembourg airport. Time to pack up and get ready for the landing. Take care.

© Charles Thibo

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2 thoughts on “Flying Home with Vivaldi and Sol Gabetta”

  1. I love Vivaldi but don’t think I’ve ever heard his Cello Concertos. Thank you for bringing them to my attention…

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