Early Music Orchestra
• Founded 1994
Often appears with
Since its formation in 1994, La Serenissima has established a reputation as a top historical-performance group in the U.K. and beyond. The group balances original scholarly content with accessible playing that has had a broad appeal and has even been featured on U.S. television.
"La Serenissima" is part of the formal name for the city-state of Venice, in full La Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia, or The Most Serene Republic of Venice. Indeed, the group has specialized in the music of Antonio Vivaldi and other Venetian composers, gradually broadening its focus, but generally retaining a strong sense of Baroque music as it lives in a specific place. La Serenissima first came into existence as an ad hoc group formed for a 1994 performance of the rarely heard Vivaldi trio serenade La sena festeggiante, RV 693. Its director was violinist Adrian Chandler, a native of Merseyside and a graduate of the Royal College of Music, who studied both modern and Baroque violin. When he formed La Serenissima, he was still a student. The group has performed widely across the U.K. and beyond, appearing at Bridgewater Hall, Sage Gateshead, and Wigmore Hall, among other venues. La Serenissima held a residence at the St. John's Smith's Square venue under the rubric "The Grand Tour," and has appeared at various festivals, including the Vivaldi in Venice Festival in 2017.
La Serenissima recorded their first album, Per Monsieur Pisendel, in 2003. The album featured the music of Johann Georg Pisendel, a violin virtuoso and composer; Chandler himself was the soloist. The group has recorded unusual material, generally working from manuscript sources, but has also recorded works as familiar as Vivaldi's Four Seasons violin concertos (in 2016, albeit in an unusual English edition). Between 2006 and 2008, the group released a three-album series devoted to the rise of the northern Italian violin concerto, and the following year saw the appearance of Vivaldi: The French Connection, an album examining the popularity of Vivaldi's music in France.
Even with its scholarly orientation, La Serenissima has released albums such as Venice at Night (2012) that are aimed squarely at general audiences. Their second Pisendel album, Per Monsieur Pisendel 2 (2014), was featured in the U.S. television series The Originals. La Serenissima issued The Italian Job, an album devoted to virtuoso concertos from various Italian cities, in 2017. La Serenissima's 2018 album Vivaldi x2, devoted to double concertos by Vivaldi, topped classical sales charts in Britain and was chosen as album of the week by the crossover-oriented Classic FM radio network. La Serenissima moved to the Signum Classics label for The Godfather: Masters of the German & Italian Baroque in 2019, following it up with Extra Time, an album of Baroque rarities that the group had intended for previous releases.