> Vivaldi complete recorder concertos [MC]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Complete Recorder Concertos:

Concerto for soprano recorder in C major, RV 443 [11:52]
Concerto for soprano recorder in A minor, RV 445 [10:50]
Concerto for soprano recorder in C major, RV 444 [10:18]
Concerto for treble recorder in F major, RV 442 (circa. 1728) [8:54]
Concerto for treble recorder in C minor, RV 441 [11:00]
Small Concerto in D major, RV 95 ‘La Pastorella’ [10:57]
Laszlo Kecskemeti (treble and soprano recorder), Laszlo Czidra (treble recorder),
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia/Tamas Zalay
Recorded in the Reformed Church, Diosd, Hungary, from 26th-27th January 2001. DDD
NAXOS 8.553829 [63:51]


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Following two recent volumes of flute concertos by Vivaldi, Naxos have now released a delightful disc of his complete concertos for recorder. Contained on this CD are Vivaldi’s three concertos for soprano recorder and two concertos for treble recorder. An added bonus is the smaller scale chamber concerto RV 95 ‘La Pastorella’, in which certain interchangeable solo instruments can be used, although for this recording the recorder has been selected.

Prior to playing this CD I had some misgivings about my ability to concentrate for over an hour of recorder music at one sitting. The prete rossi as usual proved me wrong. I have to say that I have heard these works previously in 1981 when I purchased a Eurodisc vinyl LP of flute and recorder concertos but nevertheless it was good to reacquaint myself with these works.

Recorder virtuoso Michael Schneider makes the point that the recorder, "thanks to it’s unusually high register and penetrating sound it acquires a certain advantage against a full string section and it never runs the risk to drown in tutti passages, on the contrary, it imparts a silvery lustre to them."

I have to marvel at the way in which Vivaldi, with almost ridiculously simple means, creates harmonic and rhymic sounds structures and impressive effects. Just listen to the effect of the largo in the C major concerto RV443 (track 3) where the soprano flute plays a fine lyric melody over the sustained notes of the strings and repeated bass rhythm. In the C minor concerto RV441 (tracks 13-15) the virtuoso passages for the treble recorder come across more for the benefit of the obscure timbre and the expression of inner dramatic emotions rather than for external brilliance.

A great deal of admiration here is awarded for the virtuosity, brilliance and tone of the soloist Laszlo Kecskemeti on both soprano and treble recorders. The finger and breathing techniques represent a continuous challenge for the player who has to overcome technical difficulties of the highest degree.

Played on the treble recorder by the late great Laszlo Czidra the radiant slow movement from the F major concerto RV442 (track 11) could surely become one of Vivaldi’s ‘greatest hits’, if used in a film or television programme.

The D major, ‘La Pastorella’ RV95 chamber concerto is a real surprise package and fascinatingly the solo recorder is accompanied delightfully by a bassoon. A real must hear concerto.

These are ravishing performances of underrated and extremely engaging music. There is so much to enjoy here if one can overcome any prejudice gained from Junior school music classes. The playing is most naturally caught and the sound quality is first rate. The disc is a true delight and is undoubtedly one of my recordings of the year.

Michael Cookson

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