If you love Vivaldi's FOUR SEASONS, you will eat this up. The new tempos (which may be more like the original) take this piece from its previous iterations as a formal, Baroquesque piece to a wild, rowdy interpretation of nature's four seasons I mean, the actual four seasons. Spring has never sounded more like spring (the speeded up tempo reveals myriad birdsongs), etc.
It is now generally accepted that Vivaldi wrote ten cello sonatas – one of them now lost. Six (RV 47, 41, 43, 45, 40 and 46) of the surviving nine were published posthumously as a set, in Paris, by Charles-Nicolas Le Clerc around 1740. The other three survive in manuscript collections: RV 42 (along with RV 46) is preserved in the library at Wiesentheid Castle at Unterfranken in Germany; RV 39 and 44 (along with RV 47) are to be found in a manuscript in the Naples Conservatoire.
Geminiani’s opus 5 consists of six cello sonatas, and was first published in Paris in 1746. The twenty years either side of 1740 saw the cello rise to a very fashionable position in French musical society, largely at the expense of the bass-viol – a change of fashion which stirred such strong emotions that in 1740 Hubert Le Blanc published his fierce Defense de la basse de viole contre les entreprises du violon et les pretensions du violencel. Music such as that by Vivaldi and Geminiani which is played here by Roel Dieltiens and his colleagues must have made a powerful counter-case for the cello.
This release ’Pellegrina’s Delight’ is a joy from start to finish and a testament to Vivaldi’s undoubted genius. It is good to have this wonderful disc of Vivaldi works imaginatively themed around the oboe and a most welcome change too from yet another version of the ubiquitous ‘Four Seasons‘!
Today we know that the reason for this penetration of Italian musical tastes into the small principality of Weimar lay elsewhere: the passion of the young prince Johann Ernst of Saxony for the Venetian concertos (and those of Vivaldi in particular). During the prince’s long period of study in Amsterdam, he had occasion to enjoy the exhibitions on the organ in the local Nieuwe Kerk by the blind virtuoso Jan Jacob de Graaf.
Vivaldi's many cello concertos are performed here with consummate taste and superb musicality by Roel Dieltiens and the Ensemble Explorations. Dieltiens plays with a rich tone and a light touch and his robust virtuosity and enthusiastic sympathy for the music are irresistible. The seven members of the Ensemble Explorations – five strings plus lute or guitar and organ or harpsichord – play with a sense of cooperation, which leaves this music sounding as concertos from the period should, which is to say more like chamber music. Harmonia Mundi's sound is cool and clear, yet deep and full. Though fans of modern cellos and modern performance practices might prefer more romantic interpretations, anyone with an interest in period instruments and period performance practice will want to hear these recordings.(James Leonard)