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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
see also review by Johan van Veen