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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Six Sonatas for Violoncello and Basso Continuo: F major (RV41); A minor (RV43); E minor (RV40); A minor (RV 44); G minor (RV42); E flat (RV39)
Anner Bylsma (violoncello)
Hidemi Suzuki (violoncello)
Jacques Ogg (cembalo/harpsichord)
Rec. Channel Classics Studio, Amsterdam c.1990. DDD
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 74321 935612 [61:38]


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In total Vivaldi wrote nine sonatas for cello and bass continuo. Six of these were published in 1740; the remainder discovered in libraries in Italy and Germany. On this disc Anner Bylsma plays three of the published set and all the discoveries. The Ryom catalogue numbers given above are not provided on the disc and have had to be gleaned from other sources. This is an important omission - the key here is insufficient to identify the work - and it is symptomatic of the superficial documentation.

Each sonata has four movements (generally slow, quick, slow, quick) and, in each case, one of the movements is accompanied by a second cello rather than keyboard. Generally this is the third movement but in RV42 and RV43 it is the second movement. I presume that these are choices made by the performers but they seem to work well. Bylsma’s playing is convincing throughout. Cultured but never understated, he tends to favour quite fast tempi in the allegros. The accompaniments are alive to his approach and well-integrated in the sound picture. The cembalo (Italian for harpsichord) is a copy of the "Celestini" made by Klinkhamer/Amir. No information is provided about Bylsma’s cello although about half of it is visible on the back cover of the booklet in a splendid picture of the artist looking poised. A "modern" instrument I suppose, but Bylsma’s credentials in the baroque repertoire are well-established.

Apparently, this mid-price reissue has quite a lot of competition, including another disc from Bylsma on Sony. Completists will need to fund a two-disc set but the present DHM selection represents a good sample. The recorded sound is fine and the artistic merit is unquestionable.

Patrick C Waller

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