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Antonio VIVALDI (1678 – 1741)
Mandolin Concerto in C, RV425 (FV1) [8:14]
Sonata in G minor, RV42 [11:18]
Lute Concerto in D, RV93 [10:37]
Keyboard Concerto in D (arranged by J S Bach, BWV972) [8:43]
Double Mandolin Concerto in G, RV532 (FV2) [11:51]
Viola d’amore and Lute Concerto in D minor, RV540 (F.XIII.38) [11:41]
Trio Sonata in C, RV82 [9:56]
Eliot Fisk (guitar); Albert Fuller (harpsichord); Frederic Hand (guitar); Louise Schulman (viola d’amore); Orchestra of St Luke’s
rec. 27 July and 4 August 1992, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, New York DDD
Re–issue of MusicMasters 67097–2
NIMBUS NI 2515 [72:20]

Experience Classicsonline


Although these works were written for lute or mandolin, Eliot Fisk has arranged them for the modern guitar. In an interview with him, printed in the booklet, he explains exactly what he has done and how he has created these works, always with a mind to the period of the compositions.

For many people, too many perhaps, the name of  Vivaldi means The Four Seasons and the Gloria, but his output was huge including over 500 Concertos and 46 operas!

This is a very pleasant disk which presents some delightful music in suitably small-scale performances. Fisk makes the point that the lutes and mandolins of Vivaldi’s time probably had metal strings and this sound would add a certain percussiveness and piquancy to the faster movements – indeed, it would make a very welcome variety of tone colour if we had this sound in these works. As it is, with the modern guitar and its softer, usually nylon, strings which are plucked by either the fingernails or the fingertips, what Fisk has done is to round off the edges of the music, making it easier on the ear, but also robbing the quick music of, what could be, some very exciting sounds. Thus the opening movement of the Mandolin Concerto in C, RV425, which is delightful musically, does sound rather like a popular music group serenading under the window of the beloved. I wonder if this is wrong? It does seem to be a somewhat hybrid sound which I doubt is what could have been made of the music with a stronger sounding, metal strung, instrument. The slow movement, a soliloquy for the guitar, accompanied only by chords from the string orchestra, is a superb example of sustained playing, keeping an eye on the line, and taking time to allow the music to speak. The finale again seems to need more momentum which the harder sounding mandlin could bring to it.

The Lute Concerto in D, RV93 has some fine string playing, the orchestra is much more prominent here than before, and there is a good sound spread between soloist and band. The finale is a real joy to hear. Without a doubt the highlight of this disk is the Double Mandolin Concerto in G, RV532, which works very well for two guitars. There is a real Venetian splendour to the slow movement and the outer, fast, movements are great fun.

After listening to this disk three times I have come to the conclusion that in general it is the slow movements which fare best, for here there is some wonderfully quiet and concentrated playing which seems almost timeless, while the fast movements are full of the usual baroque chatter and banter between soloist and ensemble, but don’t really have an edge to them.

It’s an enjoyable issue, with quite good sound, if somewhat boxy at times, and sprightly performances. I am still not convinced that this is how these works should sound, but as an introduction to this music it will please many.

Bob Briggs


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