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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
The Four Seasons Op 8
Recorded in Conway Hall, London, November 1972
Oboe Concerto in A minor RV461
Oboe Concerto in D minor RV454
Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1751)
Oboe Concerto in D Op 7 no 4
Oboe Concerto In Bb Op 7 no 3
Recorded in Barking Town Hall, April 1971
Kenneth Sillito (Violin) Sidney Sutcliffe (oboe)
Virtuosi of England directed by Arthur Davison
EMI CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE 7243 5 74887 2 3 [77.20]

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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.

Gary Higginson

 


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