|Who||Europa Galante (Italy)
Fabio Biondi, Baroque violin & artistic leader
|Soloists||Sergio Azzolini, Baroque bassoon|
|Where||Valtice Castle Riding Hall|
Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741) Dorilla in Tempe, overture RV 709 · Violin Concerto in C major RV 189 (Collalto) · Bassoon Concerto in G minor RV 496 · Violin Concerto in F major RV 286 (Collalto) · Bajazet/Tamerlano, overture RV 703 · Violin Concerto in B-flat major RV 371 (Collalto) · Violin Concerto in B-flat minor RV 390 (Collalto)
The Italian violinist Fabio Biondi and the ensemble Europa Galante, whose joint discography includes an incredible twenty-two titles dedicated to the work of Antonio Vivaldi, which has been awarded Diapason d’Or or Star Recording of The Strad, will present four concerts from the so-called “Collalto” collection in the Czech premiere. According to a receipt Vivaldi signed a month before his death on June 28, 1741 in Vienna, these are the fifteen compositions that he sold to Count Tomasso Vinciguerra VI, Counts of Collalto e San Salvatore, who lived in the castle in Brtnice. This receipt is yet the last document written by Vivaldi’s hand ever found and is stored in the Czech Republic in the archives of the Moravian Museum in Brno. Fabio Biondi’s performance will be the Czech premiere of these fantastic violin concerts. The Czech footprint will be highlighted by the performance of Concerto for Bassoon RV 496 by bassoon magician Sergio Azzolini. Vivaldi most likely wrote this concerto for the excellent bassoonist of the Morzin’s ensemble Antonín Möser. Finally, we must not forget selected overtures from Vivaldi’s operas, which remind the fact that the first city outside Italy to perform the composer’s operas during Vivaldi’s lifetime was Prague, specifically the theater of Count František Antonín Špork. The final concert of the festival, directed by one of the best contemporary performers of Vivaldi’s music Fabio Biondi, will graciously complete this year’s festival, which will celebrate the 280th anniversary of the death of the Italian musical genius – “Il Prete Rosso” – Antonio Vivaldi.
As the first sentence of the biography of violinist and conductor Fabio Biondi stands: “Driven by a deep cultural curiosity, Fabio Biondi is a musician ceaselessly in pursuit of a style free from constraints.” Began under the guidance of pioneers of learned interpretation, then significantly collaborated with Les Musiciens du Louvre and The English Concert, and eventually decided to find his own ensemble Europa Galante in 1990. The Guardian has called him a bit factually “a virtuoso beyond any reproach”, as Charlotte Gardner (Gramophone) labelled his Paganini’s Sonatas recording as “an absolute banger”. Fabio Biondi’s violin skill is only underlined by invitations to solo recitals at Carnegie Hall in New York, Wigmore Hall in London or the Cité de la Musique in Paris. As a conductor, he performed with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, hr-Sinfonieorchester, Bergen Philharmonic and Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Between 2015–2018, he was the music director of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia and for eleven years, until 2016, he held the position of artistic director of the baroque music section of the Symphony Orchestra in Stavanger. Since 2011, he has been a member of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, in 2015 he was named an Officer of the National Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture and in 2019 he was awarded the Medal of Courage and Veracity of the Polish Government for outstanding cultural achievements.
After listening to the third album from the complete recording of Vivaldi’s bassoon concerts, which Sergio Azzolini has been recording for Naïve since 2015, Lindsay Kemp wrote about him for Gramophone: “The simpler the music, the more Azzolini can enchant you with a tiny curl.” He himself compares Vivaldi’s bassoon concerts to the comic character Harlequin from the comedia dell’arte. A native of Bolzano, he is an extremely versatile bassoonist who, in addition to playing the modern instrument, also plays the baroque bassoon. In this field, he has collaborated as a soloist with Ensemble Baroque de Limoges, Concentus Musicus Wien, L’Aura Soave Cremona or Accademia Bizantina. In 2013, he founded his own early music ensemble, L’Onda Armonica. Besides the Vivaldi Edition recording for Naïve, we can find his recordings at EMI, Sony or Chandos. Sergio Azzolini is a winner of ARD Munich Competition and Prague Spring International Music Competitions. Since 1998 he has been teaching at the University of Music in Basel, Switzerland. “The older I get, the more I come to taste Vivaldi’s captivating and magical music. Performances like these are the sheer example.” Lindsay Kemp concludes her critique with these words and you can look forward to one of the best contemporary performers of Vivaldi’s music at Lednice-Valtice Music Festival 2021.
Since its establishment in 1990, the Italian ensemble Europa Galante has been one of the absolute world leaders among ensembles dealing with informed interpretation. Its core repertoire lies in the work of Italian authors of the 17th and 18th centuries, and the music of Antonio Vivaldi occupies more than an honorable place in it. The Le Quattro Stagioni recording became the album of the year in more than five countries. We can find operas such as Bazajet, Oracolo in Messenia and Ercole sul Termodonte in the discography of the ensemble, released at Warner Classics in cooperation with stars such as Joyce DiDonato, Diana Damrau, Philippe Jaroussky, Vivica Genaux or Rolando Villazón. So far, the last act is Vivaldi’s opera Agrippo for Naïve – project, which should also be performed in Vienna, Madrid, Seville and Shanghai. Europa Galante regularly performs in the most prestigious halls from Rome to Tokyo (Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Pierre Boulez Saal in Berlin, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Vienna Musikverein, Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Lincoln Center in New York, Sydney Opera House or Suntory Hall in Tokyo). Since 2016, the ensemble has worked closely with the Chopin Festival in Warsaw, where every year he performs one of the operas of the bel canto period – Verdi, Rossini, Bellini and others. “For those who love early music, they are a legend. In a world that is philologically insignificant and musically starchy, they are like a seismic shock. Nowadays, more refined than ever before, but not at the cost of losing a soul.” (La Repúbblica, 2019)