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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Recorder Concertos

Concerto in G minor, RV 103 1,4,6 [10:25]
Concerto in D major, RV 92 2,5,6 [10:15]
Concerto in G minor, RV 105 1,2,4,5,6 [8:45]
Concerto in D major, RV 94 1,2,4,5,6 [10:50]
Concerto in A minor, RV 108 2,3,5,6 [8:25]
Concerto in C major, RV 87 1,2,3,5,6 [8:20]
Concerto in G major, RV 101 1,2,4,5,6 [9:41]
László Kecskeméti (recorder), László Hadady (oboe)1, Attila Falvay2 and Katalin Párkányi3 (violins), György Olajos4 (bassoon), György Kertész5 (cello), Borbála Dobozy6 (harpsichord)
rec. Phoenix Studios, Budapest, 24-27 July 2003
NAXOS 8.557215 [66:41]

 

Naxos has released quite a bit of Vivaldi’s output - there is quite a bit of Vivaldi to release - since it set up shop back in 1987. On the first hearing of this disc it is evident that the high production and performance values that remain a Naxos hallmark are in full effect here. The performers play these pieces in a fashion fitting the era in which these works were composed, avoiding inappropriate romanticisms such as rubato and gradual crescendi/diminuendi occasionally found in other recordings. This ensemble is a tight unit and plays well, with restraint and vivacity, with terraced dynamics and adherence to the meter without sounding stiffly regimented or dogmatic in their approach. Though it doesn’t mention it in the liner notes, it sounds like none of the players on this recording use modern-specification instruments.

Rather confusingly, there is another Naxos disc (8.553829, see review) titled “Complete Recorder Concertos”. That’s a single disc release and includes none of the pieces featured here! A slight oversight perhaps derived from an original intent to present these in a multi-disc set? Suffice it to say that these two releases together comprise a more “complete” collection than the “Complete” disc alone.

The pieces presented here are just what one would expect from Vivaldi, with no surprises in presentation or acoustic. There are many movements of interest — the slightly queasy descending figure in the last movement of the RV103 concerto. Or, as additional example the lovely effervescent passage about a minute into the last movement of the RV94 concerto. The sobbing violin duo accompaniment to the Largo of RV108 is a lovely feature, and RV87 starts with a slow opening statement from the recorder before things spin off in earnest with the Allegro. The concertos are all gathered under the heading “recorder” concertos, but some here give quite a bit of weight to other instruments in the ensemble, such as the substantial amount of stage time given to the violin in the RV92 and 94 concertos in D or the oboe and bassoon in the first movement of RV105.

This is a charming collection, well played, and yet another feather in the cap of Naxos with its standard-setting, solid performances of both the new and familiar. And though other reviewers here have taken exception to the rampant uses of Canaletto paintings for the covers of Vivaldi recordings, I, though I do feel it is somewhat unimaginative, feel the quality of the performance rises well above this unfortunate shortcoming.

David Blomenberg

see also Reviews by Adam Binks and Glyn Pursglove

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