The Academy of Ancient Music does a wonderfully and good performance playing the pieces by Vivaldi one seldom hears and they are precious and surprising heart-touching compositions in the inimicable style of the enthusiastic Antonio. Good purchase of 6 CDs!
Someone ought to get some t-shirts made that say "Vivaldi rocks!" At least that partly accounts for his popularity in the twenty first century; among the old masters, Antonio Vivaldi's sense of rhythmic dynamics and the gale-like force of many of his string concertos are close enough to the ever-enervating pulse of pop music that he has found an unlikely audience among younger listeners. Andrea Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra's disc Vivaldi: Concerti & Sinfonie per Archi delivers these very kinds of goods, and will prove pleasing to Vivaldi fanciers of the younger set.
This is a welcome addition to my collection. These little gems sparkle and make me want to look at other Vivaldi pieces. It's time to go beyond the Four Seasons. These pieces show compositional variety, the playing is nuanced and exciting, and the SACD recording is superb.
Vivaldi augmented his reputation as The Red Priest with L'Estro Armonico , Op. 3, a collection of twelve concertos for one, two and four violins. The title of the collection encapsulates the qualities that so entranced Vivaldi's contemporaries. L Estro Armonico , which might be translated as musical rapture , reflects the vitality and freshness of Vivaldi's invention: its rhythmic energy, melodic and harmonic intensity,textural sensuousness,performative brilliance and dramatic flair.
This very attractive release from Channel Classics features the terrific British period instrument ensemble Florilegium in performances of three Vivaldi concertos and two sacred vocal works. The group plays without a conductor and the players' shapely unanimity of phrasing and nuanced expressiveness give the performances the character of chamber music. It sidesteps the metric squareness that can plague performances of Vivaldi and let the music breathe and surge organically. The strings have the slight tartness of Baroque instruments and the overall sound of the orchestra has an appealing burnished sheen. This is relatively obscure repertoire and includes a flute concerto that was only discovered in 2010 and is recorded here for the first time, played beautifully by Ashley Solomon, the artistic director of Florilegium.
Director and violinist Amandine Beyer acknowledges in her booklet notes for this disc that the world may not seem to need another recording of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, but then she tops the bar she has set up by delivering an entirely distinctive reading of the work. Her version, with the Italian historical-instrument group Gli Incogniti (who are not quite as unknown as all that), is as strikingly revisionist as the various turbo-powered, operatic Vivaldi recordings that began coming out of Italy in the 1990s, but it is different in flavor. In her own words, Beyer seeks "lightweight forces and freedom of phrasing." The group is small, with microphones put down right in the middle, and you hear lots of internal lines and interplay rather than contrast between orchestra and soloist.
In their original incarnation on LP, the sound of Trevor Pinnock and his English Consort's 1981 recording of Vivaldi's famous Four Seasons was clear and bright. In subsequent CD iterations, it was clearer and brighter. But in this 2008 Japanese original bit processing issue, it has passed clearest and brightest and gone all the way to transparent and translucent. One can hear each of the 13 string players bows strike their strings and every pluck of Nigel North's theobro or Pinnock's harpsichord. And soloist Simon Standage sounds so vibrant and present that he may as well be in the room standing between the speakers.
In light of the "chill-out" trend of the 1990s, major labels released many albums of slow, meditative pieces to appeal to listeners who wanted relaxing or reflective background music. Deutsche Grammophon's vaults are full of exceptional recordings of classical orchestral music, and the performances by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic are prominent in the label's catalog. The slow selections on Karajan: Adagio are in most cases drawn from larger compositions, though these movements are frequently anthologized as if they were free-standing works. Indeed, many have come to think of the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 as a separate piece in its own right, largely because of its evocative use in the film Death in Venice. Furthermore, the famous Canon by Johann Pachelbel is seldom played with its original companion piece, the Gigue in D major, let alone in its original version for three violins and continuo; it most often appears in an arrangement for strings.