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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Il Cimento dell’Armonia e dell’Invenzione’ Opus 8: (1725)

Concerto for solo violin in E, #1, ‘La primavera’ RV 269 [10.01]
Concerto for solo violin in g, #2, ‘L’estate’ RV 315 [9.54]
Concerto for solo violin in F, #3, ‘L’autunno’ RV 293 [10.39]
Concerto for solo violin in f, #4, ‘L’inverno’ RV 297 [8.36]
Concerto for solo violin in Eb, #5, ‘La tempesta di mare’ RV 253 [8.59]
Concerto for solo violin in C, #6, ‘Il piacere’ RV 180 [8.22]
Massimo Quarta, solo violin
Yuko Tanaka, harpsichord continuo.
Moscow Chamber Orchestra/Constantine Orbelian
Notes in English
Recorded at Skywalker Sound, Marin County, California, USA, September 16, 2000
A "Virtual Reality" surround sound recording Dolby 5.1 encoded.
DELOS DE 3280 [56:32]


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The thought of listening to yet another recording of the Four Seasons did not immediately appeal to me. To show my age, I remember a musical world in which the Four Seasons did not exist, and I remember hearing and buying the very first LP recording (there had been an earlier recording on 78s which I have never heard.) with violinist Louis Kaufman and the "Concert Hall Society Chamber Orchestra" which was, for its time, a marvel of original instrument/original performance practice. In some ways it is still the best version ever done, because these musicians were presenting this music for the very first time in their lives and nothing can equal that sense of novelty and discovery that informed their performance. No-one has ever brought the third movement of ‘Spring’ so joyously to life as Louis Kaufman. I also bought the very first stereo LP recording, with violinist Jan Tomasow and I Solisti di Zagreb. That also remains one of my very favourite recordings. No one ever played the aria from ‘Winter’ as affectingly or as richly beautiful in tone as Jan Tomasow. This was also Igor Stravinsky’s favourite performance. For a while there I tried to buy every version that came out, but quickly became overwhelmed and gave most of them away.

Listening to this version was an uncomplicated pleasure which seemed to be over too soon. This version is every bit as good as any I’ve heard on CD. The violinist plays excellently, adding just a little ornamentation to the slow movements to enliven them but not in any way distort the comely melodic lines. The recording is unusually reverberant but since the surround sound perspective is precise, there is no illusion of distance — quite the contrary, one does feel surrounded. This recording is also available as a multi channel SACD which I have not had the pleasure of auditioning but which should be a wonderful experience indeed.

Because this reduction for 44/16 is a little harsh and clouded in sound the orchestra tend to merge into a single voice, like a ‘patch’ on a synthesiser, rather than to resolve into individual instruments. That said, the solo violin is generally clearly in front, and the melodic lines remain clear overall. My advice is to wait until you convert to whichever of the new high resolution multi-channel formats survives and then buy this disk as your demonstration recording.

The ‘Tempesta’ and ‘Piacere’ concerti here receive excellent performances in the same style as the first four concerti. Since here we have just half of the concerti from Opus 8, it is hoped that the producers’ motivation for putting out such a short-timed CD is that they soon intend to release the second half to comprise a complete recording of Opus 8. That would be another good reason to wait. Complete Opus 8s are rare and this one is starting out to be the best ever.


Paul Shoemaker



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