Her life reads like the classic Baroque success story: brought up motherless in a Venetian orphanage, maturing into an "unparalleled violin virtuosa", treated as an equal by Antonio Vivaldi: Anna Maria dal Violin. Midori Seiler and Concerto Köln depict the life of this exceptional woman in "La Venezia di Anna Maria".
All her life long, Anna Maria (born 1696, died 1782) lived and worked in the Ospedale della Pietà. The Venetian orphanage for girls did more than just offer a home and a refuge to girls abandoned by their mothers. It was a school, a musical conservatory and a tourist attraction at the same time, a flourishing part of the city-state’s economy in which Anna Maria rapidly rose to stardom. Defying conventional expectations, the orphanage provided the springboard and proved the perfect setting for a career otherwise denied a female orphan in 18th-century Italy.
As maestro di concerto of the Ospedale, Antonio Vivaldi took Anna Maria under his wing. Starting out as her mentor and teacher, he eventually wrote over two dozen Concerti per Anna Maria. She for her part brilliantly mastered the violin and a host of other instruments, and was praised as the "veritable embodiment of all that is good and beautiful", as a creature "ascending into Paradise". Before long everyone was demanding to hear her and it is largely thanks to her that Vivaldi's instrumental concertos blossomed as they did. Baroque specialist Midori Seiler and her congenial partner Concerto Köln offer a virtuoso portrayal of this artistic teamwork between Anna Maria and Vivaldi. Anna Maria noted in her "performance book" a large number of the concertos she played in the Chiesa dell'Ospedale. They have luckily survived and so these 160 sheets of music bear her handwriting in more senses than one. We see not only the notes as she transcribed them, but her own ornaments. And they shed light on how she and her contemporaries played the violin, opening a musical door from the present day into the Venice of nearly three centuries ago.
This album is the record of a fruitful collaboration: Antonio Vivaldi and Anna Maria – Midori Seiler and Concerto Köln – Midori Seiler and Anna Maria. As an equally virtuosic female violinist, Midori Seiler is the ideal candidate to challenge and emulate her Baroque predecessor. As a member of Berlin’s Akademie für Alte Musik, Seiler was a part of the ensemble’s international breakthrough, from 2005 to 2014 directing from the leader's desk. After a period as Professor at the Salzburg Mozarteum University she returned to Germany in 2017 as Professor at the Franz Liszt College of Music in Weimar. Holder of the Saxon Mozart Prize, she has enjoyed a long partnership with Concerto Köln. The orchestra has been one of the leading ensembles in the field of historical performance practice for more than 30 years, and as EU Cultural Ambassador 2012 is one of North Rhine-Westphalia’s claims to musical fame.
Four of the Concerti per Anna Maria have been selected for this album, together with one concerto each by Vivaldi's contemporaries Galuppi and Albinoni. On "La Venezia di Anna Maria", exceptional readings by Midori Seiler and Concerto Köln shed unique light on Venice as a flourishing centre of the arts at the height of its musical prowess.