L'estro armonico, the title of Vivaldi's first published collection of concertos, is commonly translated into English as "harmonic fancy."
However "the word oestrus actually means "heat, stimulus, vehement impulse or frenzy" - a better allusion to the startling passion and energy of these twelve concertos, which are widely considered to be "among the most influential Baroque orchestral music ever written."(Amazon notes)
Which might make one expect an academically important exercise – tradition preserved in aspic.
Which is not how Camerata operates – over the years, since their wonderful 2015 concert with Vivica Geneaux, I have come to expect superb musicianship "filled with integrity, adventurism and joy" as Martin Buzacott puts it.
Davide Monti was no exception. An expert in improvisation and a professor of Baroque Violin in Italy, he brings passion, flair, extraordinary technique and an infectious empathy for and celebration of Vivaldi – "all of the vitality and freshness of Vivaldi's invention: its rhythmic energy, melodic and harmonic intensity, textural sensuousness, technical brilliance and dramatic flair." (Amazon notes) .
Rhythmic energy is at the heart of Viva Vivaldi and we go on an emotional roller-coaster from sombre melancholy to superb showmanship. To maintain this level of energy and modulation throughout several hours of performance is a tour de force and one in which Camerata triumphantly succeeds, while all the time communicating engagement and love for the music.
Leo Schofield described Camerata as a "revelation" and once again they spun their web around their audience, often creating that "good silence" where the audience, performers and music are as one in total engagement.
This is high-energy infectiously melodic chamber music, complex and joyous, which quickens the heart and lifts the spirit.
And part of that joy is a quirky irreverence.
It was a delight to see and hear Davide Monti and Brendan Joyce duel – miming a sword fight with their bows and then sparking off each other to morph into a complex and spirited duet.
Rapturous applause and a standing ovation were no less than Camerata and Davide Monti deserved.