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Antonio VIVALDI ( 1678-1741)
Tesori Del Piemonte - vol. 56
Concerti per due violini e archi, vol. I
Concerti per due violini e archi: RV 523 [9:23]; RV 510 [6:34]; RV 509 [8:35]; RV 517 [7:52]; RV 515 [10:59]; RV 508 [9:59]
Il Pomo d'Oro orchestra,
Dmitry Sinkovsky (1st violin: RV 508, 510, 517)
Riccardo Minasi (1st violin: RV 509, 515, 523)
rec. January 2013, Villa San Fermo, Lonigo, Italy
NAÏVE OP 30550 [53:41]
Tesori Del Piemonte - vol. 57
Concerti per archi, vol. II
Concerti per archi: RV 150 [4:00]; RV 134 [5:23]; RV 151 [3:24]; RV 119 [5:16]; RV 110 [3:47]; RV 160 [4:42]; RV 128 [5:11]; RV 164 [4:13]; RV 127 [3:56]; RV 166 [5:45]; RV 157 [5:20]
Concerto Italiano (Mauro Lopez Ferreira, Nicholas Robinson (violins); Ettore Belli (viola); Diego Roncalli (cello); Luca Cola (double bass); Craig Marchitelli (theorbo))/Rinaldo Alessandrini (harpsichord)
rec. June 2013 Oratoria del Gonfalone, Rome, Italy
NAÏVE OP 30554 [51:14]

As part of their work-in-progress series the Vivaldi Edition on independent label Naïve is recording the great collection of 450 Vivaldi manuscripts housed in the National University Library, Turin. This treasure trove is in effect Vivaldi’s own personal collection of autograph copies that were never published in his lifetime and was bought for the Turin Library at the end of the 1920s. The Turin collection includes 110 violin concertos, 39 oboe concertos, over a dozen operas and a stack of sacred music.
It was the Opus 111 label who commenced the Vivaldi Edition but this has now been continued by Paris-based Naïve in collaboration with the musicologist Alberto Basso, president of the Istituto per I Beni Musicali in Piemonte. Instantly recognisable on the CD covers of each volume are eye-catching portraits of primarily female fashion models by the French photographer Denis Rouvre. 

The opening disc is the first volume of Concerti per due violini e archi (Concertos for two violins and strings). The twelve-strong period instrument orchestra Il Pomo d'Oro are joined by the two soloists. As with nearly all Vivaldi works it is difficult to pinpoint exact composition dates however it is estimated that these were written post-1720. Riccardo Minasi and Dmitry Sinkovsky have already featured on a separate release of solo violin concertos in this series. Here the directing duties from the first violin are shared, three each, between Minasi (RV 508, 510, 517) and Sinkovsky RV 509, 515, 523).
Vivaldi wrote over twenty concertos for two violins arranging several for alternative solo pairings such as violin and organ, and violin and oboe. These double concertos closely follow the typical three movement Allegro-Adagio-Allegro format. In the tutti sections both soloists almost always play as part of the first violin section of the orchestra. Here only RV 523 departs from that plan with the second soloist joining the second violin section in the tutti. Any stylistic differences between the soloists are virtually indistinguishable, with both leaders relishing the virtuosity of the solo episodes. These are performances of unerring buoyancy from Il Pomo d'Oro marked by a compelling sense of engagement. Articulation feels scrupulously clean and crisp together with a remarkable degree of intensity. Although all six are of a consistently high standard two of them stood out as memorable: the RV 509 in C minor and RV 515 in B major; both are thought to have written sometime after 1725.
The second disc is volume two of Concerti per archi (Concertos for strings). It is over a decade since Rinaldo Alessandrini and his period instrument ensemble Concerto Italiano recorded their first volume of Vivaldi Concerti per archi for Naïve Opus 111. Alessandrini is a remarkable musician and directs the Concerto Italiano from the harpsichord. This release comprises of eleven of the sixty or so concertos that Vivaldi composed for string orchestra without a virtuoso soloist. These enabled the composer’s sole focus on orchestral matters. As demonstrated by these works Vivaldi is a proven master of achieving maximum effect from concise forces. He keeps largely to his typical three movement Allegro-Adagio-Allegro design with all the movements being relatively short. Alessandrini achieves impeccable instrumental balance and unity from his group of six players together with a satisfying range of colouration. Crucially ample vitality is given to the Allegros. I don’t have any particular standout work however I loved the driving opening Allegro non molto of RV 128 (track 19) marked by its persistent three note falling motif. 

The sound engineers for Naïve have provided cool, clear and well balanced sound. Typical of this Vivaldi Edition, these two releases include first-rate booklet notes. The overall presentation is a model of excellence. As with the other volumes I have heard in this series these performances are of a consistently high-calibre and continue to provide joyful and positive listening experiences.  

Michael Cookson