Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerti con Molti Stromenti
Concerto in F, for violin, 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 horns and strings, RV 574 [11:38]
Concerto Funebre in B flat, for oboe, chalumeau, violin, 3 violas all'inglese and strings, RV 579 [6:42]
Concerto in D, for violin, 2 oboes, 2 horns and strings, RV 562 [15:41]
Concerto in F, for viola d'amore, 2 horns, 2 oboes and bassoon, RV 97 [12:02]
Concerto in D, for 2 trumpets and strings, RV 781 [6:31]
Concerto in C, for 2 recorders, oboe, chalumeau, violin, 2 violas all'inglese, 2 violins 'in tromba marina', 2 harpsichords and strings, RV 555 [8:13]
Concerto in D minor, for 2 recorders, 2 oboes, bassoon, 2 violins and strings, RV 566 [7:44]
The King's Consort/Robert King
rec. Abbey Road Studios, London, May 1998. DDD
HYPERION HELIOS CDH 55439 [69:13]
Hyperion give another disc a minimal makeover but fresh pair of legs under their budget 'Helios' imprint. This one originally appeared in 1998 at premium price with the catalogue number CDA 67073. There can never be too many Vivaldi recordings - Dallapiccola or Stravinsky's frankly moronic quip that he wrote the same concerto hundreds of times over is shown up yet again for what it is by these seven works of ear-catching colour and diversity.
Vivaldi is always inventive, but these Concertos count alongside the perennial Four Seasons among his most progressive. The album title comes from the composer's own description of a couple of these works, the somewhat unimaginative "concerti con molti istromenti" (the latter an archaic spelling of the modern Italian 'strumenti'), or what Bach in his 'Brandenburg' concertos called 'concerts avec plusieurs instruments' - the 'molti' and 'plusieurs' referring each time to variety rather than sheer quantity.
To match the scores, there is no end of brilliant music-making on this disc. So sparklingly vital are individual performances that it is almost a crime to conceal soloists' identities under the King's Consort name. Their director Robert King has had to face ugly personal demons since this recording was made, but his and the Consort's Hyperion legacy, amounting to perhaps a hundred CDs, is one of the most valuable bodies of recordings anywhere, and music-lovers must be grateful to Hyperion for not adopting the crass revisionism practised by certain institutions prior to King's rehabilitation, and for preserving this corpus in the face of what was a major embarrassment for them.
Though not always at their best in orchestral recordings, with a certain muddy quality finding its way into strings especially, on chamber and solo discs Hyperion's technology presents no such problem, and audio quality here is very good. A minor quibble is the fact that the harpsichord is rather remote and consequently difficult to pick out in the tutti sections, even in RV.555 where there are two employed obbligato.
Michael Talbot's original notes, detailed and well written, are sensibly recycled. For those who only know Vivaldi through the Four Seasons, this is the perfect second album. For collectors it is just as perfect.
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A bargain for Vivaldi novices and colectors alike.