Music review: Vivica Genaux and Europa Galante at Disney Hall
Squeezed in between Mahler symphony cycle dates, Walt Disney Concert Hall’s Baroque Variations series soldiered on Wednesday night with a return visit by violinist Fabio Biondi’s period-performance ensemble Europa Galante. For someone attending all these events, the rasping, delicate sounds of period instruments in Vivaldi seemed like a bracing, perhaps slightly acidic splash of cold water in between the massively scaled mood swings of Mahler.
Nevertheless, there was another form of firepower on the Disney stage Wednesday -– the Fairbanks, Alaska-born mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux, who is the focal point of Europa Galante’s current six-city U.S. tour.
It was a platform for Genaux to show off her rare and astounding ability to wind her way through some of Vivaldi’s hair-raising obstacle courses of notes at lightning-speed tempos (plus encores by Giacomelli and Brioschi). All of the Vivaldi arias are featured on her appropriately-named CD, “Pyrotechnics,” with Europa Galante -– and none are what could be considered standard fare.
On its own, the 14-player ensemble rattled through a pair of Vivaldi concertos -– RV 116 and Op. 3, No. 8 -– and two less-stimulating 18th century concertos by Nardini and Locatelli. But clearly, Genaux’s heroics dominated the evening.
-– Richard S. Ginell
Photo: Europe Galante, uncredited.
Photo: Vivica Genaux. Credit: Harry Heleotis/Virgin Classics