Notes and Editorial Reviews
Solo Concertos: in F
Dorothea Seel, (flute, cond); Baroksolisten München (period instruments)
HÄNSSLER 98.034 (63: 24)
Until recently, it had been assumed that Vivaldi’s use of the traverse flute rather than the recorder came late in his music, but recent study has argued that he used the traverso at least by the late 1720s, when he spent considerable time away from his job in Venice, and probably earlier. Dorothea Seel plays the traverse flute for these concertos.
Baroksolisten München is a relatively new ensemble, founded by Seel in 2010, and this is its first recording. It appears not to be a fixed ensemble, its members playing in diverse other early music bands. Seel herself has been playing for the last 15 years or so in most of the English early music orchestras.
This group plays one to a part and adapts itself to whatever instrumental disposition is needed. Though the flute is prominent in this program, there are solo concertos for oboe, bassoon, and cello, as well. For instance, the opening Concerto, RV 99, is for solo flute, oboe, violin, and bassoon, played respectively by Seel, Andreas Helm, Shunske Sato, Katrin Lazar, and basso continuo. In Vivaldi’s brimming imagination, this becomes an interesting alternative to his most famous concerto for four instruments, that for four violins, RV 580, better known as Bach’s Concerto for Four Harpsichords, BWV 1065. The same solo construction is also found in RV 107, and here we can easily hear the world of difference 20 years can make in the approach to Vivaldi in general and to this concerto in particular. In 1995, Florilegium put out a similarly constructed program (not reviewed here), though with only this concerto duplicated. Of about the same duration as the present recording, Florilegium played a smooth, even gentle, performance, with lots of attention to clarity of line. Baroksolisten München, on the other hand, is much more aggressive, even playful, in its approach, especially in the basso continuo, and it is aided in this by a bright recording. This is attention-grabbing Vivaldi, and makes an interesting complement to the earlier recording.
Seel is a wonderful flautist, and in her solo Concerto, RV 429, she combines a fine sense of linear direction with close attention to melodic shape. The strings and continuo are, as seems to be the style of this group, rather choppy (an approach to playing this music not limited to this ensemble alone, however). In her Concerto, RV 504, Katrin Lazar shows us that the bassoon is more than a comic instrument, and that Vivaldi had a terrific bassoonist to write for. One might want to compare this playing with that of Sergio Azzolini (Naïve, reviewed 35: 5). I like Robin Michaels’s Cello Concerto, RV 417, one of 27 Vivaldi wrote. Its chief rival is that by Cristoph Coin (Naïve, reviewed 32: 4), and I think the main difference will be perceived in the playing of the orchestra. Andreas Helm plays the Oboe Concerto, RV 450, with delightful
and one would hardly guess it started out as a bassoon concerto.
This is a well-programmed disc, the order making it easy to get straight through, if that’s what one wants to do. I have one performance note, however. In the first movement of the first concerto, at about 1:00, 1:30, and 2:20, there is a radical slowing down of the end of the phrases that I can’t really account for musically, an effect otherwise unused elsewhere here. Otherwise, these are attractive performances and it will be interesting to see how this ensemble develops.
FANFARE: Alan Swanson
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