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Nicolas CHÉDEVILLE (1705–1782) and Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Les Saisons Amusantes (1720/1739) [54.15]
Matthias Loibner (hurdy-gurdy); Enrico Casazza (violin); Chiara de Ziller (recorder)
Les Eclairs de Musique
rec. Abbazia di Permunia, Padova, Italy, 2-4 September 2001.
ARTS 476698 [54.15]


Experience Classicsonline

This disc is a delight. I wanted to say that the disc was a hoot, but critics aren't supposed to write things like that.

Vivaldi's Four Seasons - from his Concertos Op. 8 - were performed at the French Court of Versailles under Louis XV for which event oboes and flutes were added to the original instrumentation. Presumably Nicolas de Chédeville was present at a performance because in 1739 he brought out a version of The Four Seasons which included such instruments as the hurdy-gurdy and the musette. This choice of instruments might seem unlikely but they were extremely popular at the French court, and the hurdy-gurdy had been considerably developed from the medieval instrument.

Nicolas Chédeville was the third of three brothers famous as manufacturers and virtuoso players of the oboe and the musette. Their instruments had the distinction of being used in both the Paris opera theatre and in the Grands Ecuries at Versailles.

Chédeville's adaptation, Les Saisons Amusantes consists of six concertos. To the Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter of Vivaldi Chédeville adds Le Moisson (The Harvest) and Les Plaisirs de St. Martin (the Pleasures of St. Martin's day - 11th November). All six of Chédeville's concertos are taken from Vivaldi's Op. 8 Concertos.

Chédeville's concertos are not a strict adaptation of Vivaldi. Each of the six takes a selection of movements from the Op. 8 concertos. Whilst some of this is to avoid technical difficulties with Chédeville's chosen instrumentation, he also seems to be avoiding the more unpleasant aspects of Vivalid's vision. There is no fear, no chill of winter and no tension. Chédeville has, in effect, created a series of fêtes galantes in music.

Le Printemps is base on Vivaldi's Spring, though Chédeville has to make concessions and simplifications for his instrumentation. Les Plaisirs de'Eté is not based on Vivaldi's Summer. In the CD booklet Angela Romagnoli speculates that Vivaldi's Summer was too eerie. Instead Chédeville assembles a concerto from numbers 10 and 12. Le Moisson uses concertos 7, 8 and 9; L'Automne keeps Vivaldi's opening and closing movements from Autumn but the middle is replaced. Les Plaisirs de St. Martin is based on concerto no. 6 and L'Hiver uses the slow movement of Winter surrounded by elements taken from concertos 7, 8 and 9. This might sound like an awful mish-mash but in fact it works extremely well. 

The solo parts for the hurdy-gurdy, violin and recorder require significant dexterity, particularly that for the hurdy-gurdy. On this disc Les Eclairs de Musique play the work with considerable élan. From the opening it is apparent that this is Vivaldi with a strong French accent, complete with suitable rhythmic lift and notes inégales.

I have nothing but admiration for the soloists, Matthias Loibner (hurdy-gurdy), Enrico Casazza (violin) and Chiara de Ziller (recorder). 

The group plays a new performing edition by Pietro Giudice. The notes say that this edition was arranged by Giudice but don't indicate what his arrangement involves. The group premièred the piece on 1 September 2001, at the Venice Baroque Music Festival, and went on to record the work the day after. 

If you manage to put Vivaldi's original out of mind then Les Eclairs de Musique manage to give us a charming and convincing performance with all the lightness and deftness required of a Fêtes Galantes. This is Watteau converted to music.

Robert Hugill

see also review by Johan van Veen


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