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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
New Discoveries
Agrippo: Se lento ancora il fulmine 1730; Prague [3:57] *
Se fide quanto belle, RV 749 no 32 [3:30] *
Concerto for 2 Violins and Cello in G minor, RV 578a Dresden [8:59] ****, *****
Sonata for Recorder in G major, RV 806 [9:20] **
Vos invito, RV 811 [13:13] *
Sonata for Violin and Basso Continuo in D major, RV 798 [9:09] ****
Concerto for Oboe and Strings in G minor, RV 810 [9:29] ***
Romina Basso (mezzo)*; Paolo Pollastri (oboe) ***; Enrico Casazza (violin) ****; Bettina Hoffmann (cello) *****; Modo Antiquo/Federico Maria Sardelli (also recorder)
rec. May, 2008, Teatro La Pergola, Florence, Italy. DDD
NAVE OP30480 [57:37]
Experience Classicsonline

Newly-discovered works by major composers are always exciting. Of those in the top-rank Vivaldi has had - and seems likely to continue to have - more than his fair share. It was all but inevitable that the comprehensiveness, thoroughness and dedication which characterise the Vivaldi Edition - of which this release is part - should include the seven additions to the Vivaldi canon which are to be found on this
Nave CD. They are not mere curiosities and should be welcomed as mature and inviting pieces in their own right; this makes the present CD as attractive as any in the series, which began in 2000.

Although not necessarily connected musically or thematically - there are two arias, a motet, two concerti and two sonatas - these pieces have in common that they appear to be commissions outside the mainstream of Vivaldi's output. They have come to be regarded as authentic Vivaldi as the result, chiefly, of two things. 

First, continuing research among sources which have, it could be said, fuzzy edges the corpus of the manuscripts held in Turin is still being worked on. Secondly, there is the happy conviction that 'new' works by Vivaldi have emerged in the past and are likely to do so again, which makes almost every possible such candidate worthy of close consideration. The useful booklet that comes with this CD in French, English and Italian goes into greater detail on the provenance of each piece.

It's perhaps the motet for contralto and strings, Vos invito (RV 811), that impresses most. Discovered in the St Francis Basilica in Assisi, its attribution (by Sardelli) is on grounds of style alone it's otherwise anonymous. Obviously an early work, its aria-recitative-aria-alleluia format makes an impact for its melodic and tonal wholeness; this is also neither overstated on the one hand, nor bland on the other. Not far from Assisi, in Montecassino, was discovered another vocal piece, Se fide quanto belle; it's assigned to RV 749, which is a portmanteau number for all (operatic) arias otherwise unattached. It has number 32. Yet a third, Se lento ancora il fulmine, is from Vivaldi's lost opera, Agrippo (RV 697).

Mezzo Romina Basso has provided her own variations and ornamentation in the reprises of her da capo arias, rather than relying on the conductor to provide them. In the booklet she describes how she arrives at the optimal blend for her of invention and respect for the original. Although unashamedly of a bravura quality, nowhere are these ornamentations intrusive or spuriously spectacular.

The G minor concerto, RV 578a, seems likely to have had different first and second movements from those recorded here for it shares them with those of RV 578 in L'estro armonico. The chamber concerto, RV 810, was previously assumed 'anonymous' until - again on purely stylistic grounds - Sardelli made the attribution to Vivaldi. From the pace, tempi and instrumentation in this recording that attribution would be hard to contest.

The same archive in Kiev whose contents were hidden and ignored for over 50 years as housed the Vivaldi Motezuma fragment was home to the RV 806 sonata for recorder. Closer to home in Bergamo midway between Turin and Venice languished the final sonata on this CD, that for violin, RV 798. Equally delightful, it too bears many characteristic stylistic markers of Vivaldi - a light and unassuming, yet fully conceived, humour; a generous tunefulness; and the requirement that the players be better than dextrous!

The standard of playing on this CD is uniformly high. The performers approach the music with the unselfconscious aim of emphasising its freshness and likely newness to our ears. At the same time they fail to invest it with any kind of novelty or unwanted curiosity. This is in a more mature analogue to the performance style that prevailed when Vivaldi was first gaining the acceptance which he did two or three generations ago. There's little that's stunningly innovative or groundbreaking. But each of the soloists here is working not to convince us that to have these 'New Discoveries' is somehow good for us; rather to provide us with transparent yet substantial additions to the Vivaldi corpus. Definitely a little collection to enjoy.

Mark Sealey




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