> Vivaldi - The Four Seasons [JW]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
The Four Seasons; 12 Concerti for Violin and Strings Op 8 Nos 1-4 RV 269, 315, 293, 297 (pub 1725)
Concerto for Cello in B Minor RV 424
Concerto for Two Oboes and Strings in D Minor RV 535
Concerto for Strings in G Major RV 151
Concerto for Two Trumpets, Strings and Basso Continuo in C major
RV 537
Crispian Steele-Perkins and John Thiessen, natural trumpets
Tafelmusik/Jeanne Lamon, violin
No recording details


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Here’s a Four Seasons that blends scholarship with technique and imagination with a sense of the ethereal without losing a sense of dynamism and animation. The crisp and pliant Spring is not without some daring metrical freedoms though always at the service of the whole picture with the contrastive properties of the movements properly observed. In Summer there is a sense of almost improvisatory freedom in the opening Allegro that is a pleasure to hear, the quirky harmonic discursiveness of the music allowed to infiltrate the textures. Autumn’s Adagio molto is enlivened by the archlute; Lamon is at her peak in this, the third of the Concertos, with a real command and innate musicality. In Winter’s opening movement, sensitive and vigorous, there is real articulacy to the shaping of lines and in the succeeding Largo flying ornaments decorate the solo violin’s line, apt roulades that, with dynamic shading and diminuendos, add a piquancy to the movement. For my own taste, which is apt to be rather more old fashioned, I miss the utter concentration of an essentially unornamented line (Loveday with Marriner say or Lola Bobesco with the Heidelberg Chamber Orchestra) but there is no doubting Lamon and Tafelmusik in their stylish playing.

The disc is rounded out – an ungenerous phrase for such eloquent performances – by various concertos. An uncredited cello soloist is flexible and unforced in the little B Minor Concerto, the Double Oboe Concerto opens with stately tread but soon blossoms and flourishes, with an especially beautiful slow movement making me wish once more that the orchestra’s soloists had been credited as they fully deserve to be. Steele-Perkins and Thiessen playing natural trumpets are, whether in unison or antiphonally, ringingly ebullient in their Concerto.

The sound quality has plenty of space in which to bloom but never loses focus. This is a spirited and sensitive disc.

Jonathan Woolf

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