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.
This cantata was commissioned by Ruspoli and performed in his palace; it's likely that the cantata performed for the Pope's Christmas celebration the following year was in fact this same composition. It's a joyful, blissful work, full of flowing arias that provide opportunities for great singers, such as the Roman elite supported in numbers, to show off. The four soloists of Aradia Baroque Ensemble (two sopranos, one mezzo, and one tenor) rise brilliantly to the occasion, with beautiful nuanced voices and bravura technique. The large string ensemble, led by Kevin Mallon, supports the four singers as gently yet firmly as a calm sea supports a floating gull.
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.
The Swedish trumpet-player Niklas Eklund, born in Göteborg (Gothenburg) in 1969, trained at the School of Music and Musicology of Göteborg University. Further studies took place under the tutelage of Edward H. Tarr at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. After five years as solo trumpet with the Basle Radio Symphony Orchestra, he left the orchestra in the autumn of 1996 to further his career as a soloist. Since then he has appeared with leading ensembles and conductors such as Zubin Metha, John Eliot Gardiner, Heinz Holliger, András Schiff, Robert King, Eric Ericson, Reinhard Goebel, Gustav Leonhardt, the London Baroque, the Bach Ensemble (New York), the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble and the English Baroque Soloists. In 1996 he was the first-prize winner of the first Altenburg International Baroque Trumpet Competition, in Bad Säckingen. He participated in Sir John Eliot Gardner’s Bach Pilgrimage performances and recordings in 2000, appearing in concerts throughout the world.
Perhaps the leading post-Harnoncourt cellist in the early music movement, Christophe Coin has developed a particular interest in music of late eighteenth century Vienna. He began studying the cello as a child in Caen, then enrolled in the Paris Conservatory, where his principal teacher was André Navarra. After taking first prize in a conservatory competition, Coin moved to Vienna where, at the Academy for Music, he became a disciple of Nikolaus Harnoncourt and performed in the latter's Concentus Musicus.
There is no composer whose music was as direct and immediate as the music of Vivaldi, and listen to her is not difficult. The style of Vivaldi clear, simple and melodic. Despite the accusations that his music is too repetitive, and one piece is very similar to another, listen carefully - and you immediately become visible the subtle differences in melody, texture and mood.