Venice Baroque Orchestra goes for broke at Dumbarton Oaks

"The world of baroque music — with its courtly manners and faint aroma of wig powder — may have seemed, in the past, like a rather staid place. But a slew of adventurous and hard-charging new ensembles has changed all that, and few have been more exciting than the Venice Baroque Orchestra, which brought its vivid and incisive playing to Dumbarton Oaks on Sunday night.

"There’s a wildness in Vivaldi’s music that makes it so exciting, a sense of barely controlled fury in his huge, cascading waves of sound. But there’s also a heart-breaking vulnerability at its core, and the Venice players balanced them to perfection."

Stephen Brookes, Washington Post
Venice and Vivaldi, Center Stage at the Metropolitan Museum

"That was just one of many displays of virtuosity from an orchestra of remarkable depth."

James R. Oestreich, New York Times
Avi Avital, mandolin – VIVALDI works – with Venice Baroque Orch. – DGG

"The sound he achieves with the Venice Baroque Orchestra is full, luxurious and mysterious – just like Venice itself."

Robert Tomas, Audiophile Audition
Avi Avital and the Venice Baroque, in Sizzling Communion

"The chemistry between the ensemble and Mr. Avital was palpable. There were exquisite little exchanges between Mr. Avital and Ivano Zanenghi, the orchestra’s lutenist, that played on the juxtaposition of the sharp and mellow sounds of their respective instruments, and moments when the mandolin and Mr. Bovo’s cello conversed as equals."

Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, New York Times
Mandolin master Avi Avital supercharges orchestra

"Few musical experiences are more enjoyable than to witness a group of musicians, all evidently enjoying themselves, playing beautiful music with precision and compelling expression. This is what Sunday’s audience experienced at the remarkable concert presented by the Venice Baroque Orchestra, with Avi Avital as the solo mandolin player.

"The imagination the orchestra brought ... was remarkable, and it drew the warmest appreciation from the audience.

"In sum, this was a concert to remember, not just because of Avital’s wonderfully free virtuosity and compelling musical presence, but also because of the crisp, totally engaged playing by the Venice Baroque Orchestra, an ensemble that evidently loves what it does and communicates this love to its audience. This was the best in early music performance and a treat for music-living Calgarians."

Kenneth Delong, Calgary Herald
Avital, Venice Baroque Orchestra strike sparks at Tropical Baroque Festival

"Venice Baroque Orchestra, the award-winning, internationally-acclaimed period instrument ensemble, performed a stellar concert Monday night at Miami Beach Community Church, as part of the Tropical Baroque Music Festival. The venue was packed and the audience enthusiastic and appreciative, more than once applauding particularly well-played individual movements. Venice Baroque was joined by Grammy-nominated mandolinist Avi Avital.

"The concert earned the orchestra and soloists a well-deserved extended and enthusiastic standing ovation."

Peter James Learn, South Florida Classical Review
Countertenor Jaroussky hits the heights in Mandel Hall recital
"... the ensemble brought tonal delicacy and wide dynamic contrasts to two Handel Concerti grosso (in A minor and G major, Op. 6, nos. 4 and 1). The astringent period timbres lent bite and the excellent theorbo player provided subtle textural touches."
Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review
Joroussky dazzles in Venice Baroque Orchestra debut
"The 20-piece period-instrument ensemble, which included a theorbo, a kind of double-necked lute, as part of the continuo, performed with a winning gusto and freedom and an appropriately light, transparent sound."
Kyle MacMillan, Chicago Sun-Times
Venice Baroque Orchestra makes Vivaldi sizzle and astonish at Tulane University's Dixon Hall
"Happily, there are such events as Wednesday's (Feb. 26) concert by members of the Venice Baroque Orchestra to remind us that superlative musicianship — a collective instinct for illuminating the core of what matters expressively — banishes any potential refuge into academic debate. The ensemble (four violins, viola, cello, bass, lute and harpsichord) was laudably scrupulous, expected of a group established in 1997 by keyboardist and scholar Andrea Marcon. Yet it was passion, not policy, which defined this evening at Dixon Hall on the campus of Tulane University.

"The energy sizzled. The satisfactions abounded."
Andrew Adler, New Orleans Times-Picayune
"There are countertenors, and then there is Mr. Jaroussky.... with Mr. Jaroussky, there is scarcely a sense of anything artificial in the vocal production. He sings with an ease and fluidity that you would think could come only from a natural voice. And that is before you lay on his keen intelligence and his tremendous artistry."
James R. Oestreich, New York Times
Venice Baroque Orchestra with Mario Brunello
"Music from several hundred years earlier made up the first half of the program, a clutch of 18 th-century pieces spotlighting cellist Brunello. Brunello’s curriculum vitae tilts heavily toward the performance of later music and at times this showed: His sound could be forward and urgent, his timing constricted."
Annie Timberlake, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Baroque battles on Valentine's Day
"Hearing the Venice Baroque Orchestra and Philippe Jaroussky live will, hands down, be written in my mind as one of the most memorable concerts events that I have had the privilege of attending."
Anthony Rodgers,
Venice Baroque Orchestra at UCSB's Campbell Hall
"The spirit of Antonio Vivaldi was practically visible under the nearly ideal conditions that prevailed in Campbell Hall on Thursday night."
Joseph Miller, Santa Barbara Independent
Venice Baroque Orchestra and Philippe Jaroussky at Disney Hall
"In a KUSC interview with Jim Svejda, Jaroussky spoke of how he enjoys working with the Venice Baroque Orchestra because of the way the musicians adjust their playing to his voice. In Porpora’s 'Alto Giove' from Poliferno, the strings played the opening pulsating rhythms in a somber mood, but with empathy that seemed to encourage Jaroussky to freely and openly express his sorrow and longing, as B.B. King might after a blues riff. Jaroussky’s voice then luminously filled the hall as he sang 'that beautiful, loving goddess I so sighed for' in a way that conveyed at once ecstasy from sight of beauty and pain from longing for beauty."
Samuel Jang, Culture Spot LA
"The orchestral playing, led by Andrea Marcon, is dynamic and propulsive throughout - and as a special delight, the disc includes two duets with mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, who seems to spur Jaroussky to some of his most inspired musicianship." Read More...
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle
Farinelli was the greatest 18th-century castrato. Nicola Porpora was his singing teacher and, in 50 operas, the composer who gave him the fizzingly virtuosic or meltingly lyrical arias with which he dazzled Europe. I’d be surprised if Farinelli’s voice was any more astonishing than the countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, who sings 11 of Porpora’s arias here, most previously unrecorded. The Venice Baroque Orchestra supplies zesty backing; Cecilia Bartoli, no less is on two duets. Read More...
Richard Morrison, The Times (UK)
Venice Baroque Orchestra: When Wild Works
"The qualities that made this concert succeed in spite of its wildness were the sparkling freshness and the enthusiasm of all the members, and these traits make the Venice Baroque Orchestra stand out from other equally skilled groups."
Stan Metzger, Seen and Heard International
Anna Fusek on soprano recorder with fellow members of the ensemble on Wednesday evening at Zankel Hall.
By Vivaldi and Company, Prizes From a Watery City
"There was no grand thought or theme to unify the Venice Baroque Orchestra’s program at Zankel Hall on Wednesday evening, unless it was a sheer delight in virtuosity."
James R. Oestreich, New York Times
"Andrea Marcon’s irresistible period-instrument ensemble revels in the scruffy-elegant style of its home city, so its reputation in the concertos of such composers as Vivaldi, Geminiani, and Porpora is, naturally, sterling."
New Yorker
Italian Music and a Film Fest Come to the Hop This Week
"If a regular orchestra can be likened to a bus ... the Venice Baroque is 'a sports car.' This from a city of gondolas and water taxis."
Pamela Polston, Seven Days (VT)
Venice Baroque Orchestra brings fresh spirit to ancient music in New Orleans
"Led by harpsichordist Andrea Marcon, the Venetians have been at the center of a Europe-wide revival of interest in period music and instruments. But this band of 16 virtuosos offers more than dusty scores and gut-string fiddles. It also has pioneered a spontaneous, near-improvised performance style that has had a liberating effect on classical players of all stripes."
Chris Waddington, New Orleans Times-Picayune
L'olimpiade, Venice Baroque Orchestra
"The performances from the Venice Baroque Orchestra under Marcon were simply stunning. The orchestra had a fine technique, with a bravura feel to it which just asked to be listened to."
Robert Hugill, Opera Today
CD Review: Vivaldi et al: L'Olimpiade
"Modern ensembles such as the Venice Baroque Orchestra play with a fluidity and grace that was would have been unimaginable in the middle of the last century and their singers seem to have found a confident style that marries passion and clarity."
Ed Breen,
L'Olympiade: the Opera
"Sung and played with freshness and spirit by the Venice Baroque and six youthful soloists, this disc - full of showpiece da capo arias and gleeful coloratura - may up your game on the obscure opera front."
Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian (UK)
"The highlight of the evening, however, was the group's playing of Vivaldi's most popular work, The Four Seasons. One might say the work is so popular it's played to death, but Venice Baroque truly played it to life.... It was the freshest, most delightfully musical performance of the work I believe I've ever heard." Read More...
Philip A. Metzger, Allentown Morning Call
"The musicians - who with their elegant grooming and smartly tailored business suits could have passed for the board of directors at some high-level Italian corporation - belied their appearance with playing of percolating energy and lithe, silvery tone. The tenderly sculpted solo lines at the opening of Galuppi's G-Minor Concerto a Quattro were a fine showcase for the players' formidable solo skills, and their disciplined ensemble work was just as effectively displayed in the sparkling interplay of Albinoni's Concerto a Cinque in G." Read More...
Joe Banno, Washington Post
Venice Baroque Orchestra goes beyond history, to pure music
"A Sinfonia and six concertos -- two for strings and four for violin solo -- all from Venetian composers, provided a heavy dose of the city's heritage. Only a group of this caliber could dispel the potential sameness of such a program, and they did so with bright, transparent textures and measured balance."
Michael Huebner, Birmingham News
"This is music the 18 members of Venice Baroque know so well they played as a single body. Each arm used the same amount of weight on a bow stroke, each string was crossed not merely at the same time, but at the same angle. The resonance this created in Camp Concert Hall was staggering." Read More...
Angela Lehman-Rios, Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Moments of brilliant color and texture emerged through the work's four movements, enhanced by the Venice Baroque Orchestra's incredible dynamic spectrum.

"Comprising only seventeen members, the facile Venice Baroque Orchestra always had technique to burn and a chamber-like demeanor (with all musicians standing except cellists, lutenist, and harpsichordist). In Vivaldi's Four Seasons, one could imagine frolicking love birds, summer thunderstorms, and a swirling winter wind."
Michael Lodico, Ionarts
Through the Seasons With Glass and Vivaldi
"Collaborating with the Venice ensemble - a superbly polished period-instrument group known for its fresh, zesty Vivaldi recordings - was also a brilliant touch. Mr. McDuffie, as both soloist and conductor, is anything but an early-music purist. His vigorous, often electrifying account of the Vivaldi was steeped in Romantic expressive effects: carefully shaped phrases with ample rubato, dynamic suppleness and grand rallentandos at movement endings. But the Venetians matched his moves closely, and Mr. McDuffie adopted the Baroque practice of embellishing the solo line, elegantly and plentifully, with variations in the repeated sections."
Allan Kozinn, New York Times
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