The six Vivaldi concerti
on this ArkivMusic re-issue are a programme centred around RV
271, the E Major violin concerto, which is subtitled 'L'Amoroso';
Simon Standage is the soloist. As with all these Arkiv CDs, what
you get is a record company-authorised CD-R at a decent price,
a reproduction of the original cover and back of the booklet.
The original liner-notes are not included, though.
In the other works
Milan Turković is the bassoon soloist for RV 484 (E Minor),
where - although deft and tripping - his warm sound is a little
muddy. Lisa Beznosiuk in RV 436 (flute, G major) is clean, breathy
and understated - to the music's clear advantage. Roy Goodman,
Nigel North RV 540 (viola d'amore, lute in D minor) make a wonderful
sound. Then David Reichenberg and Turković again in RV 545
(oboe, bassoon in G major); this contains some of the more substantial
movements in all the pieces here. The disc begins with a wistful
little concerto for strings, which makes a good overture to the
delights to follow.
These are all fine
soloists at the peak of their abilities and playing for the most
part with gusto, sensitivity and diligence. The slow movement
of RV484 is particularly well executed… languid, languorous and
loving to be sure; followed by a crisp upbeat finale, this is
maybe the most persuasive concerto of the group. It seems to have
more of love about it than the E Major itself, which is taken
Romance creeps up
on you too in the atmospheric viola d'amore and lute D Minor with
some rare chromaticism sounding like a gypsy fiddle serenading
a gondolier with a lute (or vice versa). Even here, the tempi
are a little perfunctory. It's first rate interplay between the
two soloists and whilst the melody is as clear as can be, the
'moment' (of something magical in the mist, almost) is rushed
and very nearly lost.
This is all highly
lyrical music; there is enthusiasm - not bombast - as Vivaldi
draws up of a series of themes developed to perfection by the
relationship (a collaborative and supportive one, which these
forces respect with great success) between soloists and strings
etc. The performances don't smother the poetry; they don't point
it up either and somehow the dignity and elegance are left to
fend for themselves. A minor shame.
Make no mistake, though:
this is not a bad collection. Indeed it was well-received on its
first release twenty years ago. The English Consort with its unstoppable
and unbeatable director (from the harpsichord) Trevor Pinnock
know the repertoire inside out. Yet, as now - though times and
personnel have, of course, changed - they always found new knots
to unravel, fresh aspects to present to the audience and previously
unnuanced positives in Vivaldi's genius to commend by simple,
professional interpretation and performance.
The fact that they
made everything so fresh, smooth and enticing at a time when Vivaldi
recordings were dripping from every serious music outlet - on
period instruments recording after recording (including on this
one: Turković plays a four-keyed Deper from the second decade
of the eighteenth century) is a recommendation by itself. There's
under an hour on this reasonably-priced and minimally-presented
CD. There are now better recordings of most of this repertoire.
But this is timeless music and, if the above minor caveats don't
dissuade, you should seriously consider the recordings.