Magazine article Gramophone

Springing into Baroque: La Risonanza Bring Vivaldi to a Venue with Unpromising Acoustics Yet Emerge Triumphant

Magazine article Gramophone

Springing into Baroque: La Risonanza Bring Vivaldi to a Venue with Unpromising Acoustics Yet Emerge Triumphant

Article excerpt

A concert of Vivaldi performed by a leading Italian period-instrument group in a Baroque hall designed by a Venetian architect--in Surrey. As a celebration of the music of the 17th and 18th centuries in locations connected with it, BBC Radio 3's Baroque Spring season, broadcast throughout March, really did do what it said on the tin, save for one thing: the weather was more winter than spring. In the grounds of Clandon Park near Guildford, 30 miles south-west of London, rain lashed down and there wasn't adaffodil in sight.

Never mind: if spring is all about renewal, then that's exactly how the audience that packed the fabulous Marble Hall, designed by Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni in the 1730s, felt at the conclusion of the concert performed by La Risonanza, directed by founder Fabio Bonizzoni with the soprano Yetzabel Arias Fernandez.

Vivaldi tends to have that effect, of course, especially when it is performed with the sort of polish and panache Bonizzoni's group are known for. Before the concert, Radio 3 controller Roger Wright admitted to me that he had been just a little concerned about the hall's acoustics. I cast an eye around the cold marble floor, the twin fireplaces and the walls rising 40 feet to the richly decorated stucco ceiling. I shared his pain. It looked like an acoustician's worst nightmare.

Don't ask me how, but against all the odds what we heard was, above all, detail: interweaving musical lines as clear as day, ornaments freshly minted and, while you might expect the violins to shine, a cello that was warm and defined. …

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