The evening's lineup was framed around passages from Alejo Carpentier's book Concierto barroco, in which Vivaldi, Handel and Scarlatti are all in Venice at the same time and place (during Carnivale), and, essentially, get together for a jam session.
The performers of the traditional pieces did a superb job. It was admittedly odd having the works linked by a narrator reading translated excerpts, but it worked, particularly since the conductor was good enough to "assign roles" to the musicians represented in the fiction. Some of the original combinations of traditional pieces were truly amazing in their ebb and flow of style and sound.
Concierto barroco is, to an extent, an absurdist work - phantasmagorical history (an excellent intellectual jumping-off point for the meaning and purpose of opera vs. history, an issue brought up in the book, and the performace last night). The highlight of this in the performance was when "Louis Armstrong" appears in the midst of the jam session. Hearing baroque string/harpsichord overlaid with a jazz horn in a concert hall was truly a mashup I'll never have a comparable experience to again.
Quite a night!