These days Vivaldi’s reputation rests primarily on his ubiquitous Four Seasons and other innovative contributions to the string-concerto genre, but during his own lifetime the Venetian priest won renown throughout western Europe for his operas, cantatas, and liturgical music. In this season opener of the estimable Chicago Baroque Ensemble, the spotlight shines on that relatively obscure side of his output. The pair of dramatic cantatas for alto–“Cessate, ohime, cessate” and “Perfidissimo cor”–that will be performed were probably composed for his female companion, a celebrated singer of whom the church didn’t exactly approve. The program does include four concerti: a somber liturgical pair for strings and a colorful pair for transverse flute and five strings titled “La notte” and “Il cardellino.” From Vivaldi’s Mantua days as a court musician, there’s a technique-rich sonata for cello–an instrument he, more than any other composer, promoted to a starring role. The CBE members–John Mark Rozendaal (viola da gamba), Jerry Fuller (violone and bass), Susan Rozendaal (viola), David Schrader (harpsichord), and Jennifer Roig-Francoli and Jeri-Lou Zike (violins)–are all top-notch period-instrument veterans. Their guest soloists–flutist Anita Miller-Rieder and countertenor Mark Crayton–are of the same caliber. Sunday, 3 PM, Mary and Leigh Block Gallery, Northwestern University, 1967 South Campus Dr., Evanston; 708-491-7866. Monday, 6 PM, Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson; 274-2528.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Wm. Burlingham.