Gerard Hoffnung CDs
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Music for Mandolin and Lute
Concerto for 2 mandolins, strings and basso continuo in G major, RV 532 [10:39]
Trio for violin, lute and basso continuo in G minor, RV 85 [9:18]
Concerto for mandolin, strings and basso continuo in C major, RV 425 (1725) [9:24]
Concerto for viola d’amore, lute, strings and basso continuo in D minor, RV 540
Trio for violin, lute and basso continuo in C major, RV 82 [9:34]
Concerto for 2 violins, lute and basso continuo in D major, RV 93 [9:48]
Rolf Lislevand (mandolin and chitarra
rec. April 1996 (RV 85; 540; 82; 93); June 2006 (RV 532;
425), Studio Tibor Varga, Sion, Switzerland. DDD
NAÏVE OP30429 [59:54]
As part of their Vivaldi Edition, Naïve enables the collector
to explore the extensive variety of the composer’s output from
the collections housed at the National University Library in
by Naïve as “The greatest recording venture of the 21st
century” they are in the process of recording by category
(sacred music, opera, concerti for winds, concerti for violin,
cantata, etc.) the 450 manuscripts from the Turin collection.
These manuscripts are from Vivaldi's personal collection
of his own, hand-written music scores; his own private library
at the time of his death.
One cannot help noticing Naïve’s strategy of using glamorous
young photographic models on the front covers of their Vivaldi
Edition. Although totally irrelevant to the music this imaginative
approach is proving to be an inspired and successful, if
controversial and highly recognisable, marketing exercise.
I can vouch that Naïve are using the finest possible period-instrument
ensembles, eminent baroque vocal specialists and the best
choral ensembles in the field of historically informed performance.
On this release, Rolf Lislevand is the soloist who presides
over cutting-edge interpretations, employing a talented group
of specialist period-instrument performers. We are told that
Lislevand in the early 1990s founded and is director of the
authentic-performance group, the Ensemble Kapsberger. It
is not clear if they are performing on this release.
Lislevand first came to my attention a few years ago with
a revelatory recital of unaccompanied seventeenth century
music titled ‘La Belle Homicide’ on Astrée
Naïve E 8880. This superb release, recorded in 2003 at
Maguelone Abbey in France, won my vote as a ‘2003 Record
of the Year’.
substantial annotation is sloppy at times
being frustratingly lacking in necessary detail and accuracy.
For example, the works for mandolin and for lute were evidently
recorded ten years apart using two sets of performers. Confusingly
we are not told who is performing what type of instrument on
each individual work. It is a sorry state of affairs not to
credit the names of all the soloists on a disc of concertos.
Bizarrely a comprehensive list of the instruments used on the
recording and the name of the maker and date is provided but
not the identity of who is playing them and on what work. The Concerto
in C major, RV 425, described in the Vivaldi thematic catalogues
as a work for single mandolin soloist, is described incorrectly
in the essay by Roger Tellart as being for two mandolins. Furthermore
some essential translations into English are omitted. I would
have found helpful some information on the six types of guitar/lutes/mandolins
used. My request to the Naïve management for clarification
on the performers has not as yet produced a reply.
six attractive scores on the disc follow Vivaldi’s usual three
movement fast-slow-fast design. The first
work is the outstanding Concerto for 2 mandolins, strings
and basso continuo, RV 532 with its buoyant and vivacious
opening Allegro. The central Andante contains
an intimate dialogue between the mandolin soloists and the
final Allegro is quite stunning being packed with incident.
The Trio for violin, lute and basso continuo, RV 85
is a generally introverted score and barely decorative. The Larghetto is
tender and meditative with a closing Allegro that just
bursts with energy.
The Concerto for mandolin, strings and basso continuo, RV 425
is an excellent score with vigorous and rhythmic outer Allegros and
an enchanting central Largo of contemplative and nocturnal
quality. Throughout the Mandolin Concerto one cannot
help but notice the richly written parts for the string section.
In the Concerto for viola d’amore, lute, strings and basso
continuo, RV 540, the unusual blend of the two solo instruments
is entrancing. The tender central movement Largo is
evocative of a musical interchange between two lovers. I
loved the playful Allegro that closes the Double
I found the Trio for violin, lute and basso continuo, RV 82
an impressive score. It contains two good-humoured examples
of the Allegro movement placed either side of a relaxing
and affectionate Larghetto lento. The final score
is the Concerto for 2 violins, lute and basso continuo
in D major, RV 93. The melodic and memorable outer movements
consist of an exciting and spirited opening Allegro giusto with
a closing Allegro high on joie de vivre. The
finest of all is the central movement Largo with one
of the most beautiful melodies ever played on the lute. This
is a score that could certainly be regarded as one of Vivaldi’s
Lislevand is an outstanding baroque guitarist who commands respect
from the first note to the last with stunning interpretations
that are awash with colour. He is at one with the emotional
and technical demands of the music and I loved the way he
imparts a spiritual, almost ethereal quality to the slow
movements. The accompaniment is of the highest quality and
I especially enjoyed the rich and varied basso continuo.
The Naïve engineers have provided especially warm and detailed
sonics. The very close sound-picture at times even captures
the breathing of the soloists and the operation of the instruments
but the ear soon becomes accustomed.
retain fond memories of the 1984 Hyperion recording of the
same programme of mandolin and lute works from soloist Paul
O’Dette and The Parley of Instruments under Roy Goodman and
Peter Holman. Using period instruments O’Dette’s expressive
playing thrilled and delighted me immediately from its release
in 1985 on audio cassette KA66160; now available on Hyperion
Lislevand displays his impeccable credentials on this
superbly performed and recorded release of Vivaldi mandolin
works from Naïve.
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