Notes and Editorial Reviews
Violin Concertos: in D,
“La tempesta di mare.”
Sonata in d for 2 Violins,
Concerto for 2 Violins and Cello in d,
Sovvente il sole
Daniel Hope (vn); dir; Lorenza Borrani (vn);
William Conway (vc);
Anne Sofie von Otter (mez);
CO of Europe
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 001250102 (57:44
Text and Translation)
Those familiar with Vivaldi’s Concerto, “L’inquietudine,” from performances by Fabio Biondi in his set of “Concerti con titoli” on Virgin 45424, 24:2 or by Giuliano Carmignola on Divox 79406, 23:5, reissued in Brilliant’s three-CD collection (93091), may find Daniel Hope’s crisp and crunchy first movement a reminder of just how much of Vivaldi’s timbral domain remains uncharted by even the most daring period instrumentalists. Daniel Hope and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, performing on modern instruments—and at modern pitch—have managed to push at least as far into these wilds as have groups like Il Giardino Armonico and Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca, and that’s not only in breathtakingly abrupt dynamic changes but in imaginative realization of continuo parts as well. Hope turns out to be a brazenly cocky exponent of Vivaldi’s bravura violin solos, delivered with the panache that such writing for the instrument suggests and almost demands. In the capricious opening movement of the Concerto, RV 273, the solos allow the violin to emulate the mercurial, kaleidoscopic changes that mark the tutti sections, and Hope remains as alert to these opportunities as he does to the affecting possibilities in the delicate slow movement (set in a frame of bumptious melodramatic statement). In the finale, the Orchestra sometimes slows down or speeds up, a manner—or mannerism—that distinguished I Solisti Veneti’s heady early readings of Vivaldi concertos on modern instruments.
Vivaldi paid tribute to Corelli in his first set of sonatas—op. 1—not only by employing the older composer’s melodic and harmonic turns, but also by taking the same
with which Corelli closed his set of violin sonatas, op. 5, as the basis for the last Sonata of his set. In Daniel Hope’s performance with the ensemble’s concertmaster, Lorenza Borrani, the ensemble has given this Sonata a punk hairdo, removing it farther from what must have been its original inspiration more effectively than the five years or geographical distance could have done. With sharply clipped articulation, intoxicating rhythmic verve (energized by occasional ornamental patterns), and a wide range of textural backlighting, they’ve given the whole thing an “extreme makeover” that still allows it to sound idiomatic, though in the sense of the term as we’ve been taught to understand it by dashing performances like this one.
In his notes, Hope describes Vivaldi’s depiction of a storm at sea, a Concerto coming just after the
in his celebrated set of concertos, op. 8, as possessing a virtuosity rivaling Paganini’s, with slashing lightening bolts and textures describing choppy if not raging torrents. If staccatos that he and the Orchestra produce make the textures sound thinner, they crackle with correspondingly snappier discharges of static electricity. Perseus’s aria from
provides a glowing contrast (as sung by Anne Sofie von Otter and perhaps programmed because the text describes the calm after a churning storm), with an obbligato violin part that Michael Church suggests in the notes might have been intended by Vivaldi for his own use, and foreshadows the serenity of “Erbarme dich” from Bach’s
St. Matthew Passion.
Hope may once have played one of the solo parts of Vivaldi’s Concerto, RV 565, with Yehudi Menuhin, but it’s doubtful that it sounded like this performance. If the opening movement represents “hammered steel,” this steel’s been pounded by a trip-hammer. The fugue, played lickety-split, sounds less intriguing than it does in Fabio Biondi and L’Europe Galante’s version in their complete set on Virgin 45315, 22:2, which presents it as a sort of saucily defiant answer to Benedetto Marcello’s criticisms of Vivaldi’s contrapuntal writing. Hope plays the slow movement, one of Vivaldi’s most elegant musical confections, without the calories with which violinists like Nathan Milstein laced it in transcription. The brusqueness of the opening movement returns in the finale.
Throughout the program, Hope’s tone seldom sounds lush, but it’s never abrasive either: he recreates some of the reedy timbres of gut strings, apparently without actually resorting to them. The recorded sound is dry enough to reinforce the performances’ charged atmosphere. In summary, then, Daniel Hope and the ensemble, although relaxing textural astringency during von Otter’s mellifluous solo, have provided a breakfast cereal that those with a passion for ultra-bran may best appreciate. Still, others should find it of more than passing interest. Enthusiastically recommended.
FANFARE: Robert Maxham
Works on This Recording
Andromeda liberata: Sovente il sole by Antonio Vivaldi
Daniel Hope (Violin),
Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano)
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Written: by 1726; Venice, Italy
Featured Sound Samples
Violin Concerto, RV 273: I. Allegro non molto
Be the first to review this title