Andromeda Liberata is a serenata, or two-part ceremonial cantata with a hint of allegorical storyline, given in Venice on September 18, 1726, in honor of visiting Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni. Most early eighteenth century works of this type are so courtly, genteel, and refined that often their common destiny is to languish and gather dust on the shelves of some archive rather than be promoted and performed. Andromeda Liberata is an exception in that parts of it are traceable to the pen of one Antonio Vivaldi, whose varied and outstanding contribution to other types of works, including opera, are well noted elsewhere. Vivaldi, however, is not solely responsible for the score; although the musicological jury is still out on many sections contained within Andromeda Liberata, among the suspect roster may be found other prominent names (Tomaso Albinoni, Nicola Porpora, and Antonio Lotti) and some lesser ones (Giovanni Porta and Antonino Biffi).
The name of this game is "pasticcio," not a dish, but a form of musical endeavor common in the eighteenth century whereby a number of composers made up the content of a stage work. This, of course, is the very anathema to current-day practice, which is totally consumed in the tyrannical cult of the composer. As a whole, Andromeda Liberata is surprisingly cohesive, and this is partly due to the superb performance given here by soloists Simone Kermes, Max Emanuel Cencic, Katerina Beranova, Anna Bonitatibus, Mark Tucker, the chorus La Stagione Armonica, and the Venice Baroque Orchestra under Andrea Marcon. The orchestral support throughout is outstanding, and among the singers both Kermes and Bonitatibus are standouts -- these may not be names the public recognizes yet, but Andromeda Liberata is just the sort of project to provide a boost to well-deserving, and lesser-known, performers.
The sections that are known to be by Vivaldi really jump out of the texture. Albinoni has much of the first half, and there is so little of his once ominous theatrical output that this alone is enough to get excited about Andromeda Liberata. If one is a fancier of Italian Baroque music, or has a friend who is so inclined, there is no reason to avoid the manifold charms of Andromeda Liberata.