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Antonio VIVALDI
Concerti con molti istromenti
(Concertos for many instruments)
Concerto in C major RV 559
Concerto in D major RV 558 con molti istromenti
Concerto in G minor RV 577 per l’Orchestra di Dresda
Concerto in C major RV 555 con molti istromenti
Concerto in D major RV 560
Concerto Funebre in Bb major RV 579
Concerto in C major RV 556 per la Solennità di S. Lorenzo

Académie Sainte-Cécile
Philippe Couvert (violin & direction)
Recorded at the Temple de Bon-Secours, Paris in January, 1996
K617 K617062 [67.33]

 

Experience Classicsonline

Using manuscript sources in libraries in Turin and Dresden this lively disc of inspired music by Vivaldi produces excellent colourful playing from these fine exponents. There is a huge variety from flutes to mandolins, and natural trumpets to early clarinets which Vivialdi encountered on his travels through Germany and Austria. They were intended for all sorts of formal occasions in Venice and Rome and must have made a surprising impact with their sheer diversity of instrumentation, let alone their melodic invention. They all have a formalised structure juxtaposing a ‘concertino’ or small group of soloists (generally in pairs) with the full orchestra of which they form a part but from which they periodically emerge. Most memorable is the writing for the pair of mandolins in RV558 played here with energetic gusto which can match any present-day rock group of guitars. The clarinet (an ancestor of what we know from Mozart’s day) as used in Paris at the time is still only a two-keyed instrument and a direct descendant of another instrument also featured in some of the concerti, the mock trumpet or clarino. Vivaldi also uses exploits lower sounds giving it a dark, veiled timbre. It’s a marvellously inventive group of works played with loving care and dazzling virtuosity by all the members of this fine ensemble, directed by its leader Philippe Couvert, whose warm violin playing in the Largo et piacimento, the central movement of RV555, is stylishly phrased. This same concerto’s finale is full of contrast, with its pairs of trumpets, recorders, violas d’amore, cellos and clavecins. The first movement of RV560 is, surprisingly, for two oboes and two clarinets but as all four are derivatives of what we know today, it’s hard to believe one is not listening to brass instruments. The ‘funereal’ concerto RV579 may be sombre but it is not austere, and has a rather jolly fugue to conclude. Pretty well everyone is involved in RV556 which concludes the disc on a vibrant note.

These concertos by Vivaldi, the ‘Red Priest’, can claim a place alongside the great Concerti Grossi of Handel or the Brandenburg Concerti by Bach. They would be fiendishly expensive to programme in public concerts with soloists’ fees payable to so many players, but meanwhile these discs make a happy substitute.

Christopher Fifield

 



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