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)
“Here's a very attractively prepared menu whose main course is the Stabatmater for countertenor and strings. Hors-d'oeuvres and side-dishes consist of a ripieno concerto (RV114), a chamber cantata for countertenor and strings (RV684), a string sonata in E flat (RV130) and an introductory motet to a lost Miserere (RV638). Taken together, the pieces demonstrate something of Vivaldi's diverse style as a composer. The chamber cantata, if closely related to the two sacred vocal items on the disc in respect of tonal colour, differs from them in character.
The program begins with the most famous Vivaldi work of all, programmatic or not, the four violin concertos known as Le Quattro Stagioni or the Four Seasons. The rest of the music is much rarer. The second disc presents a set of five concertos grouped under the title "Le Humane Passioni" – the Human Passions. They are comparable to Couperin's subtle personifications of emotion, but they are not written in a French style. Instead, they are just as imaginative as the Four Seasons within the restrains of the typical three-movement concerto form. The most performed of the group is the Violin Concerto in D major, RV 234, "L'inquietudine," with its tumultuous quality, but equally enjoyable is the Violin Concerto in E major, RV 271, which seems almost to poke fun at the lovestruck personality. The final disc contains five concertos written for performance in churches, plus one odd Concerto "LDVB" (Grosso Mogul) in D major, RV 208, apparently added to fill out the disc. These date from various phases of Vivaldi's career, and listeners may find it difficult to detect a specific sacred style; the Concerto "Per la Solennita della S. Lingua di S. Antonio in Padua," RV 212 (CD 3, tracks 1-3), an early work, pushes the violin to the high extremes of its range.
Violinist Giuliano Carmignola and the Venice Baroque Orchestra use a slightly different scoring of Vivaldi's masterpiece, the 1996 Ricordi critical edition, and somehow unveil world premieres of three Vivaldi concertos. Their period-instrument performance of The Four Seasons is beautifully played and recorded. Andrea Marcon's conducting stretches the Adagio movements out, but the group makes up for lost time in some feverish Allegro sections. Carmignola's tone is impeccable and his playing sounds incredibly fresh throughout, even on this tried-and-true work. Does the ensemble's Italian background help their understanding of Vivaldi's music (as the liner notes surmise)? Probably not, but they've done their homework on these pieces, and they put plenty of drama into their performances. The violin concertos they dust off are impressive as well, especially for the deft fiddling required in RV 376 (Concerto in B-flat Major) and the pretty organ playing by Marcon. This is a great disc–no fancy gimmick, no scantily clad superstar on the cover; just spirited interpretations and wonderful music.–Jason Verlinde
Gérard Lesne founded the Il Seminario musicale Ensemble in 1985. Since 1990, the Ensemble has been in residence at the Royaumont Foundation, where it attracts vocalists and instrumentalists who share Lesne's enthusiam for the 17th and 18th century Italian repertoire. The musicians perform on old instruments and strive to reproduce as faithfully as possible the lilt and narrative line characteristic of the baroque style as expressed in works by composers such as Monteverdi, Cavalli, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Caldara, Pergolesi, and the others. The size of the ensemble is variable depending on the repertoire. Based on a rich and varied continuo section (theorbo, cello, basson, double bass, organ and harpsichord) supporting one or more soloists, it can be expanded with the addition of a string quartet to make a small chamber orchestra suitable for performing chamber operas. Responsibility for the Ensemble's musical direction is shared by the instrumentalists and vocalists.