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Briefly Noted: Il Diario di Chiara

available at Amazon
Il diario di Chiara, Europa Galante, F. Biondi

(released on February 25, 2014)
Glossa GCD923401 | 72'30"
The Pio Ospedale della Pietà was a rather famous charitable institution in Venice, which took in abandoned children. More than an orphanage, it also provided the girls who chose to stay there a place to live and work, in a sense, as professional musicians or in other occupations. It remains so famous because of the music composed for the girls there to perform, not least by Antonio Vivaldi, who was employed there as chaplain for a part of his career. One of the girls at La Pietà was named Chiara (or Chiaretta), taken in in 1718, when she was two months old, and she became an excellent violinist, trained by one of Vivaldi's students. This new disc from Fabio Biondi and his historically informed performance ensemble, Europa Galante -- their first on the Glossa label -- includes concertos composed for Chiara and pieces that she played in the orchestra at La Pietà. The selection is based on the copies of scores collected together by Chiara herself, a document that is still preserved in the archives of La Pietà.

Biondi takes the solo parts, on both violin and viola d'amore, both of which Chiara mastered, as well as making revised versions of the scores, including reworking a Vivaldi oboe concerto for violin (F Major, RV 457). Particularly fine discoveries on this disc include a sinfonia da camera (G major, op. 2/1, two movements only) by Nicola Porpora, who was based in Venice in the late 1720s, and two concertos dedicated to Chiara, both by Antonio Martinelli (c. 1702-1782), a cellist and composer disciple of Vivaldi's. The playing of Europa Galante is vital and at times slightly sharp and edgy, with Biondi's tone becoming harsh and not quite accurate at fast speeds, but the disc offers an intriguing glimpse inside the life of La Pietà, beyond just the usual connection with Vivaldi. (The disc comes with a bonus DVD, not reviewed, a documentary by Lucrezia Le Moli that explains the story of Chiara and includes footage with the musicians.)

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