> Vivaldi - Concertos for mandolins [CF]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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Antonio VIVALDI (1678 - 1741)
Concertos for mandolins and for other instrumental combinations (1700s)
Concerto RV 532 for two mandolins
Concerto RV 558 for 2 violins, 2 recorders, 2 mandolins, 2 chalumeaux, 2 theorbos, & cello
Concerto RV 576 for violin, 2 recorders, 3 oboes and bassoon
Concerto RV 564 for 2 violins, 2 cellos and strings
Concerto RV 319 for solo violin, 2 oboes, bassoon and strings
Concerto RV 425 for mandolin
Concerto RV 555 for 3 violins, oboe, 2 recorders, 2 violi all’inglese, chalumeau, 2 cellos,
2 harpsichords and 2 violins in tromba marina
Europa Galante
Fabio Biondi (violin and direction)
Recorded in San Giovanni Evangelista, Parma, Italy 9-12 October 2001
VIRGIN VERITAS 7243 5 45527 2 4 [67.29]

This is a jolly set of concertos, the irrepressible energy and rhythmic drive of Vivaldi’s joyful creative impulses never failing to catch and hold the imagination of the listener. If the Quick-Slow-Quick structure of the concertos’ movements can veer towards the predictable, it is more than compensated for by the sheer variety of sound, diversity of timbres and colourful textures of the instrumentation. This can be gauged simply by looking at the instrumental combinations of these seven concertos, and some ingenious mixes there are too. The Red Priest rose to meet the challenge when he met virtuoso ensembles on his travels to Dresden or Vienna. The booklet here is not very user-friendly when it comes to clarifying what exactly violi all’inglese, chalumeaux or violins in tromba marina are. Take the latter and make what you can of ‘these were presumably doctored instruments with an asymmetric bridge, which would vibrate freely, capable of resonating with that peculiar rattling sound which characterised the tromba marina, the archaic single-string bowed instrument’. Any clearer? That word ‘presumably’ speaks volumes for what is clear is that there is a certain amount of groping in the dark for knowledge.

The playing here is superb; it’s all good period authentic playing, the details occasionally over-mannered (an overdose of those straining crescendos can give one musical constipation), but Europa Galante under violinist Fabio Biondi are making a name for themselves and play these concertos with flair and delight, the soloists all rising to the occasion in grand style.

Christopher Fifield


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