This is a very good recording of a selection of Vivaldi's "concerti a quattro" - concertos for string orchestra without a solo instrument. Here we have a selection from the vast Vivaldi archive in Turin, selected, as Standage tells us, "on musical and pragmatic grounds with the aim of presenting an attractive cross-section".
With this album, Simon Standage continues his survey of the 40 odd concertos for strings by Vivaldi. As with period practice, winds are added to a few of the works. The continuo consists of harpsichord and guitar, the latter a very appealing sounding period instrument. There is less unity of mood on this album than on Volume 1 of this series. Instead, one is prone to gasp at Vivaldi's prodigious invention.
The world was hardly clamoring for another recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons violin concertos, but the Australian Chamber Orchestra has evolved into one of the world's top concert attractions, and it's natural that their fans would want to hear them in this ubiquitous work. Violin soloist Richard Tognetti plays a 1743 Guarneri instrument with a powerfully flashy tone, and he gets a large variety of sounds from it. These are complemented by the inclusion in the booklet of the four sonnets included by Vivaldi in the score (and possibly written by the composer himself). This is always desirable, for the Four Seasons are programmatic in a way that's hard to pick up from the music alone, and the inclusion of the texts is remarkably rare…
This is a highly distinctive album in the mountain of Vivaldi CDs. The works come from a manuscript in the library of the Paris Conservatory that is thought to have been originally presented to a French nobleman. It is thought that only two of the concertos were new, while the other 10 were chosen from those Vivaldi had on hand. Whatever the truth of this, this set of concertos represents a highly winning, perhaps more subtle aspect of Vivaldi's style than one usually comes in contact with.
Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer's 2000 release Eight Seasons is a conceptual masterwork. Kremer, long known for his skillful interpretations of Astor Piazzolla's Argentinean tangos, had the brilliant idea of matching four of the Latin master's tone poems of the seasons in his native Buenos Aires with Antonio Vivaldi's conceptually similar masterpiece "The Four Seasons," alternating seasons between the two works. Besides the conceptual perfection of the idea, the performances are exquisite. Kremer and his conservatory orchestra, the Kremerata Baltica, do a particularly masterful job with the Vivaldi, avoiding the ornate bloat that affects so many recordings of this work. Their performances are brisk and to-the-point, with bright tempos that add a vitality not often found in this rather shopworn old standard. As always, Kremer's solos in the Piazzolla works are absolutely superb, with the dramatic flourishes of the massed string section providing startling counterpoint, especially on the breathtaking "Verano Porteno". Eight Seasons is a truly remarkable work by an underrated performer.
Described as "essential prog" by Guitar World, SCALE THE SUMMIT was formed in 2004 after guitarists Chris and Travis met while attending Hollywood's Musicians Institute. The group self-released their first album, 2007's "Monument," before signing with Prosthetic for the 2009 release of their sophomore effort "Carving Desert Canyons." That album earned acclaim from fans, critics and peers alike – none more high-profile than former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, who asked the band to take part in the group's Progressive Nation tour that year.
Vivaldi is greatly over-rated - a dull fellow who would compose the same form over many times. Such is the opinion of one of the great composers on the music of another great composer. Given the evidence of the present newly re-released complete Vivaldi cello concertos incredulity can be the only response to this assessment. But then Stravinsky was a man who voiced strong, often acerbic and sometimes outrageous opinions on virtually anything suggested to him. He had probably heard few, if any, of these cello concertos and irrespective would it have made any difference?
…This release joins the elite of great recordings, performances that will likely to be enjoyed for as long as music endures. (…) If you think Vivaldi a bore, try this and experience conversion.