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.
Antonio Vivaldi's probably early Nisi Dominus, RV 608, and Stabat Mater, RV 621, both for solo voice and ensemble, have received several top-notch recordings, so the listener can pick on the basis of voice type and stylistic preference. Countertenor David Daniels has essayed the pair with Fabio Biondi and his Europa Galante ensemble, and you can hear the preternaturally rich contralto Sara Mingardo in a reading with the fiery Italian Baroque specialist Rinaldo Alessandrini. Here you get a countertenor, Philippe Jaroussky, in the Nisi Dominus and a female contralto, Canadian Marie-Nicole Lemieux, in the Stabat Mater. The pairing robs the whole of unity at one level, but makes musical sense; the Nisi Dominus is a more athletic work that benefits from the power of the male voice, while the Stabat Mater, especially in Vivaldi's truncated and highly dramatic setting, may require the audience to identify with a female singer.
Christopher Hogwood was one of the first pioneers to introduce historically informed performances in England in the 70', following Nikolaus Harnoncourt's revolution that took place in the late 50'. With the Academy of Ancient Music, he published hundreds of fine recordings from different composers, with a special focus on Vivaldi. Here he presents the famous Four Seasons. I find Hogwood's lecture of the 4 Seasons perfect.
For fans of the classical mandolin, here is a disc of the best works for the instrument by Antonio Vivaldi, the best friend the mandolin ever had. And for the rest of the world, here is a disc of colorful Baroque concertos by Antonio Vivaldi, the best friend the Baroque concerto ever had. After all, Vivaldi may have been the mandolin's best friend, but even he could only compose so many mandolin concertos.
A note of caution first to the unobservant purchaser who picks up this CD, believing, in glee, that he has stumbled across a premiere recording of Alessandro Scarlatti's Dixit Dominus, newly come to light - or, if not, possibly by his son, Domenico, usually better known for his keyboard music. These works, indeed premiere recordings, are in fact by Domenico's uncle and Alessandro's younger brother, Francesco.
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