REVIEW: La Serenissima, Chichester Chamber Concerts at the Assembly Room

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Although the title of this excellent baroque group is normally associated with Venice, we were spared Vivaldi and instead given the fascinating story of other Italian violinist/composers who at one time or another had met Handel or played his music.

Adrian Chandler presented a well-balanced programme centred around Handel who, while living in Hamburg, had been head-hunted by the Grand Duke of Tuscany to work in Italy. It was in Rome that Handel met Corelli who was the grandfather of the violin sonata and the concerto grosso. The concert last night featured these two great composers in a collection of violin sonatas and trio sonatas performed with 2 violins , cello and harpsichord.

Serenissima played in period style but with such beauty of tone and finesse that we were transported into the glorious sound-world of the late 17th and early 18th century further illustrated by three lesser-known contemporary violinist/composers; Veracini, Carbonelli and Caldara. Adrian Chandler as well as telling some amusing anecdotes, played with thrilling technical skill. His performance of the Handel Violin Sonata in D with harpsichordist Robert Howarth, but without cello continuo, was noteworthy for showing the harpsichord to good effect. In the rest of the programme Gareth Deats was an exemplary continuo cellist and Camilla Scarlett played sensitively as second violin in the trio sonatas.

Raymond Greenlees

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