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Concerto ‘Conca’ for strings and continuo in B flat
RV 163 [3:50]
Concerto IX from ‘La cetra’, Op. 9, two violins, strings
and continuo in B flat RV 530 [9:29]
Concerto for bassoon, strings and continuo in A minor RV 500 [9:52]
Concerto for sopranino recorder, strings, bassoon and continuo in
A minor RV 445 [10:29]
Concerto VI from ‘La cetra’ for two violins, strings
and continuo in B flat RV 526 [8:28]
Sonata for recorder, bassoon and continuo in A minor RV 86 [8:42]
Concerto fragment for bassoon, strings and continuo in D minor RV
Concerto fragment for sopranino recorder, strings and continuo in
G RV 312 [3:39]
Concerto X ‘L’Amoroso’ from ‘La cetra’
for violin, strings and continuo in E RV 271 [11:44]
Adrian Chandler (violin); Pamela Thorby (recorder); Peter Whelan
La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler
rec. Hospital of St Cross, Winchester February 2010. DDD.
AVIE AV2201 [68:59]
Once again, La Serenissima and director Adrian Chandler attempt
to up the ante in their presentation and interpretation of Vivaldi’s
Last year’s release of concertos on the Avie label (reviewed
by MusicWeb) touted an unconvincing ‘French connection’
in the composer’s music. Even more grandiosely, this disc
is subtitled ‘Gods, Emperors & Angels’. Yet,
again, the connection between the works recorded is much more
prosaic, and tenuous. The title simply refers to the writing
of some of the concertos for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles
VI, the ‘angelic’ qualities of the Pietà
girls’ playing, and the ‘cetra’ (lyre) nickname
given to the Op. 9 set of violin concertos, and its association
with the god Apollo.
Once the hype is stripped away we are left with a mixed bag
of works. On the plus side, there are a pair of delightful bassoon
concertos (although one, in D minor [track 20], is only a brief
fragment). Soloist Peter Whelan brings warmth and humour to
the chugging melodic lines, although his role in the very plain
sonata for recorder, bassoon and continuo (tracks 16-19) is
There is another pleasant surprise in the final work on the
disc, Vivaldi’s ‘L’Amoroso’ concerto
from the Op. 9 set (tracks 22-24). The opening Allegro is hauntingly
lyrical, and the plaintive simplicity of the central Largo sounds
quite unlike anything else Vivaldi wrote.
But on balance, there are more disappointments than successes
here. The ‘Conca’ concerto for strings (tracks 1-3)
is an unfortunate opener. Although meant to be humorous in its
imitation of the conch shell, it sounds scratchy, ugly and gimmicky.
Equally ugly is the sopranino recorder concerto (tracks 10-12).
Although magnificently played by Pamela Thorby, the little instrument
sounds ear-splittingly shrill and is best avoided by flicking
through to the next tracks. Fortunately, the next time it features
(on track 21) is only for a single, tamer, fragment movement.
Overall, one can’t help feeling that Chandler’s
and his colleagues’ undeniable scholarship and commitment
to Vivaldi’s music have been wasted on a rather uninspiring
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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