Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concertos for strings

Concerto in G minor RV 154
Concerto in B flat major RV 367
Concerto in G minor RV 578
Concerto in D major RV 124
Concerto in G minor RV 302
Concerto in A minor RV 522
Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini, Fabio Biondi (solo violin) [56.10]
Chamber concertos

Concerto in G minor RV 105
Concerto in A minor RV 86
Concerto in G major RV 101
Concerto in G minor RV 107
Concerto in G minor RV 103
Concerto in F major RV 98
Il Giardino Armonico [50.43]
Concertos for diverse instruments

Concerto in G major for strings and b.c. Alla Rustica
Concerto in G minor for cello strings and b.c.
Concerto in D major for traverso, strings and b.c. Il Gardellino
Concerto in C major for 2 traversi, strings and b.c.
Concerto in G minor for violin, strings and b.c.
Concerto in D major for traverso, violin, cello and b.c.
Concerto in D major for traverso, violin, cello and b.c.
Musica ad Rhenum: Jed Wentz (traverso), Marion Moonen (traverso), Manfred Kraemer (violin), Balázs Mété (cello), Ensemble Florilegium: Ashley Solomon (violin), Rachel Podger (violin), Daniel Yeadon (cello), Neal Peres da Costa (harpsichord) [51.59]
Recorded 1988 and 1993
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 92004 [3CDs: 56.10+50.43+51.59]

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Vivaldi, himself a violinist, has survived magnificently into the 20th century due mainly to his prolific output of concertos over 230 for the violin alone, and also for a large number of other instruments, including chalumeaux, clarinets and horns. He was the first composer regularly to use the Ritornello form in which the thematic material is repeated and elaborated between orchestra and soloist(s). This disc provides a generous sample of his stimulating style and melodic gift. Thankfully it does not contain the Four Seasons concertos, now hopefully laid to rest under an enormous pile of CDs.

The Concertos for Strings are evidence that, despite their formal similarities, Vivaldi was by no means a ‘formula’ composer. Short, repeated echo phrases and the Ritornello style make them easily identifiable as vintage Vivaldi, but they also contain many colourful twists and turns of phrase that please the ear and hold the listener’s interest. Well played, and they are here, these works are no mere ‘wallpaper music’ and attentive listening brings its rewards. Concerto Italiano and Fabio Biondi have the requisite bravura, though occasionally lack the subtlety needed to make the most of their kaleidoscopic harmonic and melodic colours.

Vivaldi’s guiding principle appears to have been ‘if it can be bowed, blown or plucked write concertos for it’. The Chamber Concertos are more gentle and intimate than the Concerti grossi and, except for the A minor (RV 86) a personal favourite with its entrancing Largo cantabile – are written in a compact three-movement form for small ensembles. They are well worth inclusion since they are probably the least well known works in this collection. Vivaldi wrote around twenty, probably for the salons of his wealthy patrons.

The Concertos for Diverse Instruments are innovative and skilfully reflect the expressive characteristics of the various instruments for which they were written. With their lighter scoring, they import a feeling of relaxation to this pleasing set. The flute concertos are particularly enjoyable and include a perennial favourite, Il Gardellino, where the virtuoso chirping of the goldfinch (in Italy named ‘the little cardinal because of its red ‘cap’) offers tempting opportunities for free ornamentation, confidently accepted by the soloist. His clean-limbed performance is ably matched by Marion Moonen in the concerto for two traversi.

The set is remastered from recordings made in the late 1980s and early 1990s when accomplished Vivaldi playing was less frequently encountered than it now is. Nevertheless this set merits comparison with the best of today’s performances. I am reliably informed that the absence of an insert booklet in the review copy is not accidental: there simply isn’t one. If so and in view of the sparse information on the CD case that is an unfortunate omission.

Roy Brewer



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