Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concertos Op. 8, The Four Seasons
Concerto in E, RV269 Spring [10:38]
Concerto in G minor, RV315 Summer [10:00]
Concerto in F, RV293 Autumn [11:09]
Concerto in F minor, RV297 Winter [8:30]
Concerto in E flat, RV253 La Tempesta di Mare [8:55]
Concerto in C, RV180 Il Piacere [8:31]
Simon Standage (violin)
The English Concert/Trevor Pinnock
rec. Rosslyn Hill Chapel, Hampstead, London, England, 1978
CRD 3325 [59:02]

For many people The English Concert’s famous Archiv recording of the Four Seasons (400 045-2) will be a treasured part of their collection. Here is a recording of the same music from around five years before that shows an ensemble in development. The performance is slightly slower than their more famous recording and the sound is not as crisp. That being said, this is still interesting and impressive, and not just for those who seek to chart the development of the ensemble.

The performance and sound could be said to be in transition. It is not as heavy as a modern instrument version but it is warmer than one has become use to from period ensembles, a sort of musical half-way house. It is historically informed however, with Trevor Pinnock expertly directing the ensemble from the harpsichord. This may be as a result of the acoustic but I think it has a bit more to do with the ensemble than the hall. It is a pleasing sound. It may be fuller and less bright than their later recording but it is a valid alternative.

This recording also has the bonus of the fifth and sixth concertos from the Op. 8 set. Here La Tempesta di Mare and Il Piacere are given spirited performances by artists who are in excellent form throughout.

The accompanying booklet is excellent. Not only do you get an introduction to the music and a brief description of each of the concertos but you also get a copy of the texts and translations of Vivaldi’s original descriptive poems to the Four Seasons. That's a detail all too rare these days.

Stuart Sillitoe

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