Preserved in the library of Venice’s Conservatorio di Musica is an elegant leather-bound volume containing the violin part of 31 virtuoso violin concertos, 26 of them by Vivaldi. The collection represents the personal repertoire of the Venetian composer’s most gifted pupil at the orphanage where he worked, the famous ‘Anna Maria della Pietà’, who also played the viola d’amore, mandolin, theorbo and harpsichord. Twenty of the Vivaldi works exist in other manuscript sources and are familiar to us in their complete versions. The remaining six — three for violin and three for violin and organ — are unique to the ‘Anna-Maria Partbook’, and, because they are incomplete, have not hitherto been part of the Vivaldi performing canon. Now, as a result of Federico Maria Sardelli’s rigorous musicological research and painstaking work of reconstruction based on many concordant sources, we are at last able to enjoy these six concertos in startlingly persuasive realizations.
“There are still so many fine Vivaldi concertos waiting to be appreciated, especially those from his later period, that it might seem superfluous to laud six more. But that these were selected for preservation in this important manuscript, probably by Anna Maria herself, lends them a special significance. And we gain further insight into the playing and personality of one of the outstanding violinists of the age.”