Group brings unique Vivaldi sensibility to Music Hall

Goosebumps aren’t the usual reaction to performing in a concert hall, but the Interpreti Veneziani p

Goosebumps aren’t the usual reaction to performing in a concert hall, but the Interpreti Veneziani play in a special venue.

“When we play in the Chiesa di San Vidal, one of many churches Vivaldi played in in Venice, you can feel this connection,” said violinist Paolo Ciociola through an interpreter. “Even the audiences sense this.”

That unique sensibility, almost a channeling, is why Interpreti plays something by Antonio Vivaldi on most of the 200 concerts it does at the Venice church, and on their frequent tours. On Saturday, the group returns to Troy — it was at the hall in 2009 — as part of a three-week tour that includes stops in Panama, Brazil, Texas, Florida and California.

To handle this extensive schedule, the usual 20-member group splits up into smaller ensembles, with some going on tour and others staying at home to play at the church, he said. Nine players will come to Troy.

Related story

For Gazette music writer Geraldine Freedman’s review of this show, click here.

When harpsichordist Paolo Cognolato got the idea in 1987 to get a small group of players together who would use period instruments, it was only a quartet. Over time, more players were added, including three from the same family, which includes the sole woman in Interpreti, who is a violist. There is little turnover, although Ciociola said he’d been with the group for 10 years.

All the musicians are Italian, many from Venice, and all were trained in Italy. But this Italian and Venetian connection doesn’t guarantee a special understanding of the way to play Vivaldi’s music. “Performers can be from any country to play his music,” Ciociola said.

Atmosphere of Venice

What is different about Interpreti’s style, beyond its well-known exuberance, passion and brilliance, is that its members try to infuse their playing with the atmosphere of Venice: the silence of its lagoons, the romanticism of the city and something of the church itself, which was built in 1105 but had a facade restored in 1734.

Ciociola said that the players’ skill level is so high that any one of them can be a soloist, which is what sets the group apart from other Baroque ensembles.

The group has done much research to understand Baroque practices, such as ornamentation and the way to phrase; the players use reproductions of period instruments because they’ve found that modern instruments can’t do what’s required as well, Ciociola said. Still, no one really knows how the music or the instruments might have sounded 200-plus years ago, so they try their best, he said.

Even more research is needed to find the music.

“We do a lot of work [on that]. We want to have the right sense because we always will mix Baroque with a romantic kind of classical work on the concerts,” he said, adding that they often try a piece one of the players has suggested or that they’ve never played before.

For the Troy concert, Interpreti will perform Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” — Ciociola will play the Spring solo; Boccherini’s “Fandango”; Handel’s Concerto Grosso Op. 6, # 10; and Sarasate’s Introduction and Allegro. This combination is based on what Interpreti feels the audience wants.

In Venice, it’s always Vivaldi and other Baroque composers, but on tour they try to mix things up, Ciociola said.

Pleasing the public

“We aim to please the public,” he said. “In Venice, what with the architecture and buildings of the 1700s around them, audiences want the music that reflects that preference.”

With such a concentration on these specific periods, does he, or any of the other players, long to do something else?

“I play jazz in my spare time and some of the others do also,” he said.

Over the years, the group has recorded 18 discs on the Rivo Alto label. As one of the tourist mainstays of Venice, Interpreti has developed a subscription base of 60,000 people who attend their church concert series. In recent years, Interpreti has appeared at the Bayreuth Festival, given concerts at Stockholm’s Royal Palace during Water Festival and at the Kirov Theater in St. Petersburg, done three tours of Japan, and participated in various festivals in Australia. Other tours have taken the group to Turkey, Venezuela, the Bahamas, Algeria, Mexico and Guatemala.

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