If listeners had to commit to a single version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons for the rest of their lives, this 1984 BIS recording would be thoroughly satisfying choice. Superbly played, brilliantly recorded period instrument performances of this perennial masterpiece are all but a dime a dozen, and the differences between Hogwood's and Pinnock's and Harnoncourt's readings don't begin to make up for the fatal boredom of their performances. This version with Nils-Erik Sparf and the Drottningholm Court Baroque Ensemble would be an ideal choice because theirs is the freshest performance of the piece. Beyond their excellent technique and impeccable sense of style, Sparf and the Swedish musicians bring joy and enthusiasm to the music, and sound like they are in turn receiving happiness and energy from the music. There's real pleasure here, and real affection, as if the concertos were newly composed and these were their world premieres. Filled out with witty accounts of Vivaldi's F major Concerto for Bassoon and his G minor Concerto for Flute and Bassoon, this disc is a delight.
That's right, King! in Swedish, "Kong" rather than "Drottning"! Christina (1626-1689) was the only surviving child of Sweden's greatest monarch Gustavus Adolphus Vasa, who raised her to rule as a king and whose ministers executed his will by crowning the six-year-old girl King! Christina ruled under a regency until age 18, and then personally and earnestly over some eight years until her abdication in 1654. Her involvement in Swedish affair didn't terminate with her abdication, however. She returned to Sweden several times, on the last of which she might well have resumed her throne but for her whimsical conversion to Catholicism. She also drew her wealth, in her initial years in Italy, from vast estates in Sweden.
The period instruments of the Toronto-based Aradia Baroque Ensemble provide spry, vibrant accompaniment…The voices sing with relish, fluency and refined inflection of the words, and Kevin Mallon directs with a good rhythmic bounce and an acute ear for apt phrasing.
Here's a collection of Bach pieces where the performances fit together exceptionally well. The basic sound is that of Canada's veteran Baroque ensemble Tafelmusik under violinist and director Jeanne Lamon: smooth, bright, French in its light seductiveness. Sample the almost accentless Rondeau from the Suite in A minor, a violin-and-strings transcription (and according to musicologist Joshua Rifkin a reconstruction of an original version) of the Suite in B minor for orchestra, BWV 1067; you couldn't call it gutsy, but the degree of control and consistency is impressive.