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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
String Concertos, Volume 3: ‘Concertos for strings and basso continuo’
Concerto for strings in A major, RV 158 'Concerto ripieno' [7:36]
Concerto for strings in G major, RV 151 'Concerto alla rustica' [3:37]
Concerto for strings in E minor, RV 134 [5:18]
Concerto for strings in G major, RV 145 [4:03]
Concerto for strings in F major, RV 142 [4:37]
Concerto for strings in B flat major, RV 166 [5:10]
Concerto for strings in G minor, RV 156 [6:03]
Concerto for strings in B flat major, RV 167 [5:22]
Concerto for strings in D minor, RV 129 'Concerto madrigalesco' [3:19]
Concerto for strings in C major, RV 115 'Concerto ripieno' [3:20]
Concerto for strings in A minor, RV 161 [3:48]
Concerto for strings in C major, RV 110 [3:57]
Concerto for strings in C minor, RV 118 [5:27]
Collegium Musicum 90/Simon Standage (violin)
Rec: All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London N2, 22-24 October 2001. 24 bit recording DDD
Producer: Nicholas Anderson, Sound Engineers: Jonathan Cooper and Michael Common


Chandos on their early music label Chaconne present the third volume of Vivaldi’s string concertos. These are technically concertos for strings and basso continuo. I understand from my catalogue of the complete Vivaldi works that he composed some forty-four such concertos. By my reckoning there are enough remaining to make a welcome fourth volume.

Directed from the violin by their joint founder Simon Standage, the specialist early music ensemble Collegium Musicum 90 are a standard sized orchestra of twenty players. They use authentic instruments for the most part with a handful of modern copies. To call this ensemble ‘enthusiasts’ would be an understatement as they play in a seriously professional and most persuasive manner and have now clocked up some fifty recordings. I recall a recent recital in Lancaster given by the quartet Florilegium, the period instrument specialists, whose violinist was Rodolfo Richter also a member of Collegium Musicum 90 on this recording. Richter, playing a Jacobus Stainer violin c.1670, was absolutely superb in live performance and is by no means one of Collegium Musicum 90’s premier players.

With one exception all the string concertos are composed in Vivaldi’s favoured three movement fast-slow-fast structure. Chandos, in their rather technical booklet notes, states that all these works have been chosen on musical and pragmatic grounds with the aim of presenting an attractive cross-section.

The most notable and certainly most attractive string concerto is the first on the disc, the RV 158 known as the Concerto ripieno, the main theme of which is used as one of the pieces featured on BBC TV’s ‘Antiques Roadshow’. The remaining works, of which some themes are familiar from being recycled from other Vivaldi compositions, could never be described as being amongst Vivaldi’s most memorable. However all these pieces are securely crafted and have a certain charm if often seeming rather ‘assembly line’ repetitious.

Collegium Musicum 90 seem comfortably at home in these concertos, technically assured and polished providing a relatively restrained performance. Overall I would have favoured a touch more energy and panache, with that certain authentic Latin flair. You can hear what I mean if you listen to the crack Italian period instrument ensembles the Venice Baroque Orchestra under Andrea Marcon and Europa Galante under Fabio Biondi on Sony Classical and Virgin Veritas respectively.

This is no epoch-making recording by anyone’s standards but an honest and well played release with the excellent sound quality that we have come to expect from the Chandos engineers.

Michael Cookson

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