About this work
Published in 1725 by Roger in Amsterdam and approximately the same year by Le Cene in Italy, Antonio Vivaldi's set of Concerto (12) for violin, strings, and basso continuo, Op. 8, named "Il Cimento dell'armonica e dell'inventione," were in his lifetime and remain today his most popular works. Part of the reason for this are the titles Vivaldi gave the works, which gave the pieces a higher artistic profile than he might otherwise have had in the flood of concertos Vivaldi was producing for the domestic and international market. And part of the reason is that, 14 years after the publication of L'estro armonico, his first greatest "hit," Vivaldi could musically do just about anything he wanted and do it with wit, brilliance, and expressivity.
Although the Four Seasons, the first four concertos of Op. 8, will no doubt remain Vivaldi's greatest hits from now until the end of recorded history, the remaining works in the set are nearly as ingratiating. The sixth in the set, the Concerto in C major for violin soloist plus strings and basso continuo, RV 180, named "Il piacere" (Pleasures), is fully as charming as the Four Seasons. The opening Allegro has a graceful and vigorous theme for the ripieno alternating with virtuoso passages for the soloists. The central Largo has a quietly pensive theme for the ripieno alternating with melancholy and meditative episodes for the soloist. The closing Allegro is more muscular and more dance-like than the opening Allegro, with a hammering theme shared by the ripieno and the soloist. What any of this has to do with pleasures is anyone's guess, but that it gives pleasure is incontestable.