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Conjuring tricks

The first in a new series of
Vivaldi bassoon concertos -
admired by

'The virtuosity of Tamás Benkócs is a constant wonder ...'

Antonio Vivaldi Complete Bassoon Concertos Volume 1. © 2003 HNH International Ltd

Vivaldi the red priest was an expert violinist but unlikely to have shone at the bassoon, as he was severely asthmatic. So much so that he sometimes had to leave the altar while celebrating Mass. He explained the situation in later life: 'I have not now said Mass for twenty-five years, and I shall never do so again, not because of a veto or a command, as His Eminence can confirm, but of my own accord, and this on account of an ailment I have suffered from since birth, which oppresses me greatly.' By then he would leave home only in a carriage or gondola. But other religious observances were not forgotten, as the young Goldoni discovered when he visited him in connection with emending an opera libretto: 'I found him surrounded by scores, his breviary in his hand. He rose, made the sign of the cross with broad gestures, put his breviary down and made me the usual compliments.' According to another source, a rosary was constantly in his hand, to be set down only when he was composing.

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Copyright © 10 December 2003 Robert Anderson, London UK


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