della ciaja deOn the Waves with the Knights of St. Stephen

Azzolino Bernardino della Ciaja (1671 – 1755), Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741)

harpsichord solo (one hour programme with commentary)

Italian organist, harpsichordist, composer and organ builder Azzolino Bernardino della Ciaja was born in Siena but spent most of his life in Pisa. He stayed also in Florence and Rome and his collection Sonate per cembalo con alcuni saggi ed altri contrapunti di largo e grave stile ecclesiastico per grandi organi, op. 4 (Rome, 1727) comes right from this period. He was a member of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen.

His harpsichord sonatas abound with ravishing harmonies but they are also virtuosic and spectacular. Captivating the specific harpsichord sound beauties, they are unique in the keyboard repertoire of the Italian music.

Della Ciaja was a contemporary of Antonio Vivaldi. No need to introduce the nicknamed ''Red Priest'' of Venice. The originality, energy and emotional charge of his works as well as catchy melodies, refined use of colours and technical possibilities of the instruments impressed even the general public. Antonio Vivaldi completed about 800 compositions – each one more beautiful than the next. However, neither of them is for harpsichord. The greater treasure then was the discovery of so called Ann Dawson´s Book, music source which is now kept in the Manchester Central Library. This collection was compiled by contemporary of Antonio Vivaldi – English Lady Ann Dawson during her tours of Italy. It contains also her transcriptions of Vivaldi's concertos op. 3 (L´estro armonico). And because she was an excellent harpsichordist herself, they really are worth it.