Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Complete Bassoon Concertos - Volume 4
Concerto in D minor, RV 481 [9:56]
Concerto in F major, RV 485 [9:18]
Concerto in C major, RV 477 [10:39]
Concerto in A minor, RV 499 [8:07]
Concerto in C major, RV 470 [9:50]
Concerto in G major, RV 494 [9:35]
Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia/Béla Drahos
rec. 7-9 May 2005, Phoenix Studios, Budapest. DDD NAXOS 8.557829 [57:26]
offering a further six concertos, is the latest instalment
in Naxos’s recording of Vivaldi’s 37 bassoon concertos; 39
if one counts two incomplete specimens. Those who have invested
in earlier volumes in the series (see below), all recorded
by the same forces, will know to expect the enjoyable, fluent
that are to be heard here.
Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia use modern instruments but, under
the direction of Béla Drahos they play with a crisp articulation
that is, for the most part, stylistically convincing. Benkócs
is a very fine bassoonist indeed, both technically extremely
accomplished and musically imaginative. The outer movements – all
six are in three movements, fast-slow-fast – frequently call
for considerable fleetness of finger and certainty of breath
control and Benkócs is never found wanting. There is rapid-fire
virtuosity when needed and many delightfully dancing passages.
In the slow movements Benkócs plays with lyrical expressivity,
elegantly poignant and reflective in music which, as so often
in the slow movements of Vivaldi’s concertos has a distinctly
operatic feel about it.
one of these concertos offers things of real interest – Vivaldi’s
musical imagination seems unflagging. There’s the way, for
example, in which the opening allegro of RV 477 contrasts
the tenor and bass registers of the solo instrument; or the
dotted rhythms of the bassoon in the largo of RV 499. Or,
particularly pleasant, the final allegro of RV 494 which
is full of ingenious twists and turns.
is puzzling that Vivaldi should have written quite so many
concertos for the bassoon – the bassoon wasn’t generally
a fashionable solo instrument in this period. Perhaps he
wrote them for a specific instrumentalist; if so the identity
of that musician remains unknown; certainly Vivaldi demonstrates
a thorough understanding of the instrument’s possibilities.
Whatever the circumstances which prompted the composition
of these concertos, they certainly constitute a rewarding
body of music and one of the many demonstrations of Vivaldi’s
remarkable ability to produce seemingly infinite variations
(and there really is variety here) on a basically simple
graduate of the Franz Liszt Academy
of Music in Budapest, Tamás Benkócs is a member of
Festival Orchestra. I haven’t encountered any other recordings
by him outside this Naxos series of the Vivaldi concertos.
He is such a fine player that it is to be hoped that he will
go onto record more of the bassoon repertoire.
one reservation – though it is not one that spoils my pleasure
in the CDs – that I about this series concerns the rather
understated penny-plain continuo, where the concertos would
certainly benefit from greater embellishment. Very decent
as the contribution of the Nicolaus
Esterházy Sinfonia and Béla Drahos is, I would love to hear
Benkócs playing these works with one of the best specialist
balance though, this is an eminently worthwhile and enjoyable
series, and this latest volume continues the good work begun
by its predecessors. The recorded sound is pleasingly clear
and well balanced.
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