Here’s another Arkivmusic
reissue (from Archiv) of six gorgeous Vivaldi flute concerti played
by Lisa Beznosiuk with the English Concert and Trevor Pinnock.
As with all these Arkiv CDs you are getting a record company-authorised
CD-R at a favourable price, a reproduction of the original cover
and back of booklet. The original liner-notes are not included.
They're scored for
four-part strings and continuo and were published in 1728 or 1729
in Amsterdam by Michel-Charles Le Cène. Aside from their beauty
and gentle, enthralling variety, these are the first flute concerti
in western music to have been published as an opus in their own
right. Vivaldi's oeuvre consists of eight further published and
at least two more incomplete such concerti. Those on this CD,
though are at the high watermark and stand out for their delicate
Well-received at the
time, it's very good to have this recording back in the catalogue.
The playing of Beznosiuk and The English Concert is dignified
and elegant, being quite unhampered by spurious gentility or self-conscious
‘tidiness’. The music zips along where momentum is required, ambles
where Vivaldi wants us to savour an idea; and above all builds
into six complete and satisfying tonal, melodic wholes. The three
contrasting yet unified movements of the shortest, the fourth,
concerto on this CD, for example, seem to emerge out of and lead
unobtrusively into one another.
It’s not certain that
Vivaldi wrote his Opus 10 set for transverse flute or recorder.
Beznosiuk’s gentle and somewhat polite tone gives us the best
of both worlds. There are passages, such as the brief fourth movement
of No. 2, though, where her delivery is so soft as to be almost
hard to hear – certainly hard to follow, even for a depiction
of night. It’s also a style of playing that makes a particularly
interesting impact during Vivaldi’s ostinati and crescendi. Further,
the painting brought to some of the Opus 10 movements – in No.5
as well as the three named concerti with their potential for shipwrecks
(No.1) and bird song (No.3) – is superbly ‘lit’ by Pinnock and
The English Concert. Playing almost as one (listen to the opening
of No.6, for example), Beznosiuk gets mature and stately support
from Pinnock, Standage and The English Concert to do surely what
Vivaldi intended… rather than wave a photograph of the lagoon
at night or in flood, they lead us to a watercolour.
With the English
Concert at the height of their powers (this reissue is almost
20 years old), there’s nevertheless something almost magical
about the overall timbre of the concerti… more intimate, more
chamber-like than the performances we’ve since become used to
by the likes of Il Giardino Armonico or I Solisti Veneti. Even
for music for flute there’s a delicacy of approach here, yet
quite without reticence or prissiness, which adds immeasurably
to the experience.
This is certainly
music that can be found elsewhere, in a multitude of couplings
and by a multiplicity of ensembles and soloists. But for simple
communication from composer to listener thanks to the honed expertise
of specialists – albeit a perhaps slightly ‘backwardly-recorded’
– this CD is hard to beat.