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VIVALDI: The Four Seasons BOCCHERINI: Overture in D, Symphony in C. Includes alternate stereo take of 'Autumn'.    Manoug Parikian Philharmonia Orchestra Carlo Maria Giulini. Testament SBT 1155 79m ADD
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It is a pleasure to listen afresh to these wonderfully alert and responsive Vivaldi recordings, such is the current dearth of new ideas and vision in 'The Four Seasons'. Recently leafing through Richard Osborne's wonderfully detailed biography of Karajan brought me closer to Manoug Parikian's talent, and it is simply a pity that no more recordings of this soloists are available. He brings a certain vision to each and every movement aided, no doubt by Giulini's superbly cultured conducting, a marriage of bliss, one could say.

Just listening to the easygoing Third Movement of Spring proves my case with considerable aplomb as the sweet sound of Parikian's violin melts beautifully with the accompanying strings coaxed to perfection by Giulini. There is no want of vigour or speed, such is the abandon of the whirlwind storm that concludes 'Summer' with dashing violin portamentos and just the right tempo to bring out all the clear notes. The Italian's fastidious ear for detail is revealed with consummate passion in the First Movement of 'Winter' which literally bounces about in the snow.

My selected comparison was I Musici's contemporaneous account made in 1958 in Switzerland, and if that is a touch more authentic, I still warmed greatly to Manoug Parikian's immensely cultured playing, a touch better than Felix Ayo's, or so I thought! Testament also provide an unpublished stereo 'take' of the 'Autumn' Concerto and one wonders why this was left dangling in the air for so long, surely it would have made an enticing 'filler' with superb sound and playing to boot. Giulini's Boccherini recordings also clamour for our attention. Super-refined readings of the Overture in C and Symphony in D may not be to everyone's taste, but one can only marvel at the diversity and brilliance of the Philharmonia in its glory days.

The Symphony is a particular gem, played with effervescent bucolity and frivolous charm, it comes across as an immensely pleasing work. EMI's engineering is adequate, although I thought that Karajan's similarly periodic recordings were taped with brighter intensity that is occasionally lacking from this balance. I am still amazed that EMI have left these brilliant recordings languishing for so long and once again, Testament is to be congratulated for its enterprise and dynamic understanding of the importance behind these legendary reissues. I look forward to the Mozart 'Don Giovanni' with Klemperer (Cologne 1955) and that legendary 'Gotterdamerung' (1951, Knappertsbusch) released this month.



Gerald Fenech




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