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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerto no. 1 in F Major ‘La tempesta di mare’ RV 433 [6:53]
Concerto no. 2 in G Minor ‘La notte’ RV 439 [8:49]
Concerto no. 3 in D Major ‘Il gardellino’ RV 428 [10:01]
Concerto no. 4 in G Major RV 435 [6:55]
Concerto no. 5 in F Major RV 434 [9:23]
Concerto no. 6 in G Major RV 437 [8:06]
Lisa Beznosiuk (transverse flute)
The English Concert/Trevor Pinnock
ARCHIV 423 702-2 [50:07]


Here’s another Arkivmusic reissue (from Archiv) of six gorgeous Vivaldi flute concerti played by Lisa Beznosiuk with the English Concert and Trevor Pinnock. As with all these Arkiv CDs you are getting a record company-authorised CD-R at a favourable price, a reproduction of the original cover and back of booklet. The original liner-notes are not included.

They're scored for four-part strings and continuo and were published in 1728 or 1729 in Amsterdam by Michel-Charles Le Cčne. Aside from their beauty and gentle, enthralling variety, these are the first flute concerti in western music to have been published as an opus in their own right. Vivaldi's oeuvre consists of eight further published and at least two more incomplete such concerti. Those on this CD, though are at the high watermark and stand out for their delicate accomplishment. 

Well-received at the time, it's very good to have this recording back in the catalogue. The playing of Beznosiuk and The English Concert is dignified and elegant, being quite unhampered by spurious gentility or self-conscious ‘tidiness’. The music zips along where momentum is required, ambles where Vivaldi wants us to savour an idea; and above all builds into six complete and satisfying tonal, melodic wholes. The three contrasting yet unified movements of the shortest, the fourth, concerto on this CD, for example, seem to emerge out of and lead unobtrusively into one another.

It’s not certain that Vivaldi wrote his Opus 10 set for transverse flute or recorder. Beznosiuk’s gentle and somewhat polite tone gives us the best of both worlds. There are passages, such as the brief fourth movement of No. 2, though, where her delivery is so soft as to be almost hard to hear – certainly hard to follow, even for a depiction of night. It’s also a style of playing that makes a particularly interesting impact during Vivaldi’s ostinati and crescendi. Further, the painting brought to some of the Opus 10 movements – in No.5 as well as the three named concerti with their potential for shipwrecks (No.1) and bird song (No.3) – is superbly ‘lit’ by Pinnock and The English Concert. Playing almost as one (listen to the opening of No.6, for example), Beznosiuk gets mature and stately support from Pinnock, Standage and The English Concert to do surely what Vivaldi intended… rather than wave a photograph of the lagoon at night or in flood, they lead us to a watercolour.

With the English Concert at the height of their powers (this reissue is almost 20 years old), there’s nevertheless something almost magical about the overall timbre of the concerti… more intimate, more chamber-like than the performances we’ve since become used to by the likes of Il Giardino Armonico or I Solisti Veneti. Even for music for flute there’s a delicacy of approach here, yet quite without reticence or prissiness, which adds immeasurably to the experience.

This is certainly music that can be found elsewhere, in a multitude of couplings and by a multiplicity of ensembles and soloists. But for simple communication from composer to listener thanks to the honed expertise of specialists – albeit a perhaps slightly ‘backwardly-recorded’ – this CD is hard to beat. 

Mark Sealey 



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