The first in a new series of
Vivaldi bassoon concertos -
'The virtuosity of Tamás Benkócs is a constant wonder ...'
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.
Copyright © 10 December 2003
Robert Anderson, London UK