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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerti per violoncello, Vol. 1
Concerto for cello, in A minor, RV419 [9:25]
Concerto for cello, in F major, RV410 [12:01]
Concerto for cello and bassoon, in E minor, RV409 [7:37]
Concerto for piccolo cello, in G major, RV414 [9:52]
Concerto for cello, in D minor, RV406 [10:04]
Concerto for cello, in C major, RV398 [7:38]
Concerto for cello, in A minor, RV421 [7:58]
Christophe Coin (cello)
Alberto Guerra (bassoon)
Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini
rec. February and August, 2006, Centro Culturale, Dobbiaco, Italy
NAÏVE OP 30426 [65:16]


Part of the huge, ongoing Édition Vivaldi on the Naïve label, this welcome disc (volume 34 in the series) is doubtless the first volume in a complete ingathering of Vivaldi’s cello concertos. Vivaldi’s sympathetic understanding of the cello and its possibilities as a solo instrument is evident in almost everything he wrote for it. This is readily apparent both in his concertos (some twenty seven or eight in number) and also in his sonatas for the instrument (nine of them). As that great Vivaldian Michael Talbot puts in the booklet note to the present CD, this was a composer for cello who “understand profoundly its ‘soul’ – its genius for expressing songful melody (often melancholy in mood) and its equal capacity for dazzling passage-work”.

Christophe Coin’s reading of these concertos finds in them a particular quality of introspection, even introversion. Though he has all the technique necessary for the fast passage-work of which Talbot speaks, Coin rarely takes the opportunity to “dazzle”. Even the faster outer movements place more emphasis on grace, even a degree of elegant deliberation, than on flamboyance or sheer punch. As one knows from many of their other recordings Il Giardino Armonico can ‘do’ punch and flamboyance as well as, or better than, most; but here there is a kind of conscious restraint, a sense of power held in reserve, which complements the innerness of Coin’s playing with beautiful aptness. There is a striking beauty to some of these outer movements, a refined, dancing formality to which the continuo playing of Luca Pianta (theorbo and baroque guitar) and Riccardo Doni (harpsichord) makes almost as memorable a contribution as the soloist himself does. The closing allegro of RV 419, for example, is a gem, combining two sets of three variations with a rondo-like structure; the interplay between soloist and ensemble has an intimacy reminiscent of chamber music. In RV 409 Coin is joined, as fellow soloist, by bassoonist Alberto Guerra - who might have been given slightly more prominent billing - and the two work together very subtly in this distinctive concerto, in which first and second movements each alternate fast and slow sections before the work is rounded off by a closing allegro.

Good as some of these things are, it is perhaps in the slow movements that Coin’s interpretation is most memorable. Several of the andantes and largos are spun out with sustained lyricism at slower than usual tempos and the effects are often ravishingly beautiful. In the slow movements of some of Vivaldi’s concertos the scoring is for cello and continuo alone, so that we are, to all intents and purposes, in the world of the cello sonatas. The largo of RV 410 is scored for cello and continuo only and is of the finest of all of Vivaldi’s creations for the instrument. It has an exquisite and pathetic melodic line, to which Coin certainly does full justice. The largo of RV 398 is again scored purely for cello and continuo, and again its poignancy is very moving, the continuo work, like Coin’s own playing, of the very highest order.

Perhaps these relatively introspective readings of the concertos will not be to everyone’s taste; some might even feel the recording balance gives a little too much prominence to Coin. My own initial reservations melted away with repeated listenings. These are subtle, intensely personal readings of the concertos and while, perhaps, you might not want them to be the only recording of the concertos on your shelves, the committed lover of Vivaldi will certainly want them on his or her shelves.

Glyn Pursglove



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