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Antonio VIVALDI (1678–1741)
String Concertos, Volume 1: The Paris Concertos
Concerto for strings, No.1 in g minor, RV157 [5:51]
Concerto for strings, No.2 in e minor, RV133 [6:25]
Concerto for strings, No.3 in c minor, RV119 [5:15]
Concerto for strings, No.4 in F, RV136 [4:58]
Concerto for strings, No.5 in C, RV114 [5:55]
Concerto for strings, No.6 in g minor, RV154 [6:23]
Concerto for strings, No.7, RV160 [4:59]
Concerto for strings, No.8 in d minor, RV127 [3:37]
Concerto for strings, No.9 in B-flat, RV164 [3:56]
Concerto for strings, No.10 in D, RV121 [5:05]
Concerto for strings, No.11 in G, RV150 [3:43]
Concerto for strings, No.12 in A, RV159 [4:57]
Collegium Musicum 90/Simon Standage
rec. All Saints’ Church, East Finchley, London N2; 28–30 October 1998
CHANDOS CHACONNE CHAN0647 [62:08]

Reviewed as lossless download from theclassicalshop.net, with pdf booklet

With so many new releases every month, it’s all too easy to overlook the gems of the back catalogue. Reviewing a reissue of Vivaldi’s Concertos for four violins, including four from Op.3, L’Estro Armonico, performed by Chiara Banchini and Ensemble 415 (ALPHA 311) led me back to earlier recordings of the complete Op.3, including a mid-price 2001 2-CD set from Federico Guglielmo and L’Arte dell’Arco directed by Christopher Hogwood (Chandos CHAN0689 – review – CD or download from theclassicalshop.net, mp3 and lossless, with pdf booklet).

That in turn led me to the Vivaldi recordings which Collegium Musicum 90 made for the same label some time ago, including this recording of string concertos conserved in the Paris conservatoire.

When I praised the Avie album Vivaldi The French Connection (AV2178: La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler – reviewDownload Roundup December 2009) I completely forgot that much of the repertoire was contained on the earlier Chandos. With several of these works also available on other fine recordings, including Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini (Nave OP30554 – reviewreview Download News 2014/4) and Arte dei Suonatori (BIS-CD-1845 – reviewDownload Roundup February 2012/1), it’s been even easier to forget Simon Standage and his accomplished team. The original release came slightly before the advent of MusicWeb International but we don’t seem even to have mentioned them for comparison.

The omission is very easily rectified: in brief, you would be hard pressed to find a more attractive and varied collection of baroque concertos – despite Stravinsky’s infamous assertion, Vivaldi didn’t write the same concerto hundreds of times – and they are stylishly performed and well recorded.

Some of Vivaldi’s other concertos, especially those with titles such as The Four Seasons, La Tempesta di Mare and La Notte, may be more dramatic than these ripieno works but they are very appealing for all that. Though known as the ‘Paris’ concertos, it’s more likely that some French visitor brought them back from Italy than that Vivaldi composed them for that city, though he did compose the serenata La Senna Festeggiante, RV693 (Glossa GCD921513 or Hyperion CDA67361/2 – Download News 2012/21) specifically in honour of that city’s river, or rather for the French Ambassador on King Louis XV’s name-day.

Though these are billed as string concertos, you may be surprised to hear that Collegium Musicum 90 have added oboes and bassoon in places to vary the texture. The variation adds to the appeal of these stylish performances and there is precedent in that Vivaldi’s former student Pisendel, for whom he composed a number of concertos, added flute, oboe and bassoon parts for performance in Dresden. In the same spirit lutes and a guitar are added to the keyboard continuo in places for extra variety and the chordal instruments are dispensed with altogether in one concerto.

The recording is available on CD and as a 16-bit download; there’s no 24-bit equivalent but the 16-bit conveys these bright and cheerful performances very well. The notes, by Michael Talbot and Simon Standage, are all that you would expect from Chandos; they are available in pdf format to downloaders, who can expect to save a couple of pounds on the CD price (7.99 for mp3, 9.99 for lossless).

Even if you have some of the other recordings of Vivaldi’s string concertos which I have mentioned, none of them exactly duplicate the Chandos. If you are not sure, it’s possible to sample from Qobuz, but even subscribers can no longer stream Chandos recordings from there. Subscribers to classicsonlinehd.com can, however, stream the music from there. Further volumes of Vivaldi’s string concertos from Collegium Musicum 90 are available on CHAN0668 – CD or from theclassicalshop.net, mp3, 16- and 24-bit lossless, and CHAN0687 – CD or from theclassicalshop.net, mp3 and lossless.

Brian Wilson

 




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