I know that this is not particularly helpful but I
cannot see any reason for not buying this CD. It's cheap, the recording
is very good, it's well played and it makes no demands. On the other
hand I can’t think of any reasons for wanting to buy this CD when you
think how many versions there are in the catalogue; many of them far
more recent and gripping.
These recordings are now 30 years old, the tempi are
often portly and middle-aged. Although a concession is made to authentic
practice in that a harpsichord continuo is supplied and is clearly audible
the strings are modern instruments, the playing technique is modern,
and there is a distinct lack of ornamentation.
What you get is a rendering of precisely of what it
says in the score, for example, the standard EMP Study Score. So, in
many ways the performance is rather uninteresting, dare I say dull,
but it must be remembered that at the time of its issue the LP was fairly
state of the art and it certainly sold in its thousands. Presumably
EMI are wanting that to happen again. Despite all of that, we played
the entire CD over at a dinner party and delightfully apt it was.
The disc is rescued at any rate, by the oboe concertos,
particularly those by Vivaldi. He sounds rather good besides the rather
bland inventor of the oboe concerto, Albinoni. Each concerto is in the
usual three movements with a slower middle movement, which, in Vivaldi’s
hands, is much more lyrical.
Kenneth Sillito is a fine soloist in the ‘Seasons’
projecting the music directly from the page even if without much imagination.
Sidney Sutcliffe has a slightly tight tone but the concertos have considerably
more inner life than the ‘Seasons’ and the continuo is more up front.
It’s a pleasure to discover that Simon Heighes has
written new notes for the booklet which contrive not only to introduce
each composer thoroughly as well as each work but which also manage
to quote the all but forgotten Johann von Uffenbach and one William
Hayes, professor of music at Oxford, who both heard Vivaldi play, and
both with differing views.