Antonio Vivaldi was one of the most successful composers of the Baroque era, best known for his iconic set concertos for violin, The Four Seasons. L’Estro Armonico Op.3 is among the most important printed editions of Vivaldi’s concertos; the works immediately met with great acclaim after their publication in 1711, giving way to over 30 reprints in the subsequent 32 years.
For fans of Il Giardino Armonico's flamboyant flourishes and exuberant expressiveness, it's like having all your birthdays at once, being presented with this great Warner Classics 11 CD set. My own feeling is that this "free" approach to Baroque music is at its best when applied to the theatrical music of disc 8 or the seventeenth century Italian music on disc 1. The showmanship and playfulness is an absolute joy in many of those pieces. I'm less satisfied with the interpretations of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, (on discs 10 and 11), which require a different approach, I feel. I like my Bach to be a little more measured and subtle, I suppose. It has no need of the Il Giardino Armonico treatment. On the whole, though, I do love this set and wouldn't be without it.
Renowned, American born violinist & conductor, Yehudi Menuhin was a vegetarian and committed supporter of many social and environmental causes, with a great interest in Yoga and eastern religion. He was considered one of the greatest violinist of all time and this EMI recording of "Violin Voncertos by Vivaldi" is an excellent introduction to his work Performed by the Polish Chamber Orchestra.
This was the great collection of 12 varied and exciting violin concertos that turned Bach on to concerto writing. In fact, he transcribed several of these works for solo harpsichord, organ–even for harpsichords and orchestra. What fascinated him most was the balanced, three-movement form, the brilliance of the solo passages, the tunefulness of the music generally, and Vivaldi's seemingly inexhaustible storehouse of invention. When a composer ventured to publish a collection such as this, he was making a major statement. This is one of the really big ones in Baroque music, and it's performed with splendid authority and an unrivaled sense of sheer joy.–David Hurwitz
Europa Galante is one of several outstanding specialist period instrument ensembles that have come to prominence on the early music scene in the last decade. These specialist players explore and exploit the strength of their period instruments rather than being restricted by the weaknesses. On this release at their best I especially enjoyed their Concerto in B flat major, RV 383a with its exhilarating played opening Allegro. A plaintive violin solo in the Largo e cantabile features over a clock-like rhythm followed by the furiously paced and energetic closing Allegro. The inspiration is variable and the level of memorability is often limited. A good example of this is the Concerto in F major, RV 291 that opens with a frantic violin solo in a movement that outstays its welcome. The very short central Larghetto is a rather forgettable with a rhythmically determined closing Allegro that feels breathlessly frantic. (Michael Cookson)