New Discoveries of Vivaldi (2016)

Vivaldi is perhaps one of the most famous composers of all time, and yet we are still discovering his work. Scaramuccia‘s present program features the most recently discovered Vivaldi sonatas for violin, and the exciting presentation of two completely new works by the Venetian composer.


Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Incoronazione di Maria (detail) – Santa Maria della Visitazione church, Venice.
The red-haired head behind the violinist angel on the left could be Vivaldi.

Two new sonatas by Vivaldi

The year 2015 brings the discovery of two new works by Vivaldi: The Trio sonata for violin and cello in G major, independently identified as a genuine Vivaldian work by Mr. Federico MariaSardelli and Mr. Javier Lupiáñez in 2014 and catalogued at the beginning of 2015 as RV 820, and the Sonata for violin in A major, identified by Lupiáñez in 2015 and to be included in RISM as RV 205/2.

Both pieces are part of Pisendel’s collection in Dresden. Dresden is, in fact, one of the major archives of Vivaldi’s music. During the first part of the 18th century, the concertmaster of the Dresden court orchestra, Georg Pisendel, compiled a great amount of chamber music, and especially music by Italian composers and Vivaldi. Pisendel was a great friend of Vivaldi and his pupil .

One of the main reasons to attribute these works to Vivaldi is the significant amount of concordances and links with Vivaldi’s known pieces. To name a few of these similarities, the first movement of the Sonata in A major is a re-utilization of the second movement of Vivaldi’s concerto RV 205. In addition, we find more than fifty references in this sonata to other Vivaldian works and some formal structures that have been described as uniquely Vivaldian. This Vivaldian discovery had been included in the RISM as RV 205/2.

The Trio Sonata in G major was independently identified as an early Vivaldian work in 2014 by the Italian scholar, recorder player, and ensemble director Mr. Federico Maria Sardelli and by the Spanish scholar, violin player and ensemble director Mr. Javier Lupiáñez. The piece was recently cataloged as RV 820 in the Vivaldi Catalog and is the earliest known work by Vivaldi.

The Trio Sonata presents a different Vivaldi to the one we are used to. It shows the young Vivaldi: On the one hand, clearly influenced by the masters of the end of 17th century such Corelli, Bonporti or Torelli, and on the other hand it is easy to perceive that some new and original Vivaldian ideas start to blossom in this early work.

The discovery and attribution of this Sonata is very important to understand the roots of Vivaldi’s style and the change of musical taste that happened at the beginning of the 18th century. Vivaldi was to use some material from this sonata in his later pieces, and one of the most significant concordances is found in the shared material between the gige for solo cello of the Trio Sonata and the gige of the Sonata RV 10.

The Sonata RV 10 is also found in Dresden. This is probably one of the most personal and original sonatas by Vivaldi and it is rarely performed with a historically informed approach. Perhaps not surprisingly it is performed more often by modern players in the arrangement of the piece for violin and piano made by Ottorino Respighi in 1910. Although it is a great arrangement, it takes the piece quite far from its original language. The Sonata RV 10 was conceived not to be published or to target a large list of customers, but for a closed circle of musicians and specially for his good friend and violin virtuoso Pisendel. The result is a very special piece, full of rhetoric, passion and imagination, masterminded by a great baroque musician (Vivaldi) to be placed in the hands of another great baroque musician (Pisendel).

Recent Vivaldi Discoveries

Accompanying these new discoveries, the program includes the most recently discovered violin sonatas by Vivaldi.

The Sonata RV 810 is also found in Dresden and was cataloged as an anonymous piece until 2007. It was finally attributed to Vivaldi on account of its concordance with the recorder sonata RV 806, which itself was discovered not long before in Berlin and attributed to Vivaldi due to the strength of several musical links to authentic works. The Sonata RV 810 was written by Vivaldi around 1710 and it is preserved in Dresden in a copy made by Pisendel. Pisendel most likely copied the sonata from the original, when he met Vivaldi during a trip to Italy in 1717.

The Sonata RV 816 is preserved uniquely in an English manuscript volume, prepared for a keyboard player. The volume is now in the Gerald Coke Handel Foundation in London. The sonata was identified as a genuine Vivaldian work in 2011 by the eminent musicologist Mr. Michael Talbot. The sonata was written circa 1710 in a bright and fluent style, although with some formal peculiarities: the Cadenza-like first movement is a unique case within the “solo” sonatas by Vivaldi.

The Anonymous Sonata in D major (Vivaldi?) is also part of Pisendel’s collection in the Dresden Court. Like RV 810, it was copied by Pisendel during his travel to Italy in 1717. During these travels, Pisendel copied many pieces from great Italian masters, mostly by Vivaldi, but also by other composers such as Montanari or Albinoni. Some of these pieces still remain anonymous because of the lack of a signature, but the quality of the music reveals the hands of these great Italian masters. The Anonymous Sonata in D major shares much with the recently discovered pieces from Vivaldi besides the style and high quality of the compositions, and all were unperformed and forgotten until recently because the author’s name was unknown.


Related content:



Trio Sonata RV 820. First movement (excerpt)

Sonata RV 205/2. First movement. Adagio

Sonata RV 816. Fourth movement. Allegro



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