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.
The Sablé festival, held annually in Sablé-sur-Sarthe in France, has its own recording concern that it uses primarily to expose young early music artists and to support the most interesting of their projects; the Zig-Zag Territoires label provides an outlet for this endeavor. Here is a wholly worthy enterprise: the group Gli Incogniti – led by the fabulous young violinist Amandine Beyer – in a program drawn from various works of mysterious late seventeenth-century violinist Nicola Matteis, its title, False Consonances of Melancholy, fashioned after one of his publications, but not limited to its contents.
Though the bass line of a certain celebrated Canon may have made Pachelbel the most frequently heard classical composer in the world, this sparkling program shows he was not just a "one hit wonder." It is built around suites for two violins and continuo from a collection called the Musikalische Ergötzung. The title means "musical delight," and indeed one cannot but be ravished by the extraordinary sonic hedonism displayed in these works. A few songs written for special occasions add further spice to this delightful recording featuring tenor Hans-Jörg Mammel and the ensemble Gli Incogniti led by Amandine Beyer.
1720: in his famous pamphlet entitled ‘Fashionable Theatre’, the composer Marcello ironized the excesses of the new Venetian opera. This landmark pamphlet was published anonymously as Benedetto Marcello, under the fictional editorship of ‘Aldaviva Licante’ - undoubtedly an anagram of A. Vivaldi – ridiculing the operatic world of the time. It took on singers puffed up with pride, uneducated librettists, composers seeking dramatic effects, in short, everything that the musical world then thought about as original, unusual, new, experimental, shocking, weird, baroque, and, in a word, Italian! Vivaldi was one of Marcello’s favourite targets, continually lampooning the Red Priest and his virtuoso violin escapades.
After a recording of The Four Seasons that was awarded several distinctions (ZZT080803), Amandine Beyer and her ensemble come back to Vivaldi with a selection of concerti.