Notes and Editorial Reviews
2018 Gramophone Magazine - Artist of the Year
What better music than Vivaldi’s ‘Le Quattro Stagioni’ to start the celebration of Rachel’s 50th birthday year! Together with the star players of Brecon Baroque, Rachel guides you through the seasons of nature and life.
Producer Jonathan Freeman-Attwood: ‘The irresistible character pieces that pit solo violin against string ensemble in Vivaldi’s ‘Le Quattro Stagioni’ have reached the ears of millions over the last few generations.
Most recordings adopt a strikingly similar approach to the scores, and familiarity has blunted the music’s edge: we have passed the point of
rediscovery and have stopped listening intently to the freshness of Vivaldi’s invention.
Working with Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque has been an object lesson in starting anew and identifying the ingredients which make ‘Le Quattro Stagioni’ great works. Virtuosity is non-negotiable here and Rachel has it in abundance. But it’s the colour, poetry, vibrancy and evocative characterisation of weather, human warmth and fragility, captured by the dynamic flux of Rachel interlocking with her colleagues in Brecon Baroque, that deliver near-unimaginable qualities in this music.
With two other deeply evocative works and that great ‘bull’ of a concerto, ‘Il Grosso Mogul’, the experience is kaleidoscopic in the capacity of a single-part string band to press the boundaries of intimacy and, at the same time, to produce visceral fortes as dramatic as you’ll here in any larger group. The musical range is sensational and matched all the way by Jared Sacks’s luminous and emotionally engaged recorded sound.’
It’s not just that the actual playing is superb: serene virtuoso fluency from Podger, gorgeously supported by her colleagues, it’s also that this is something genuinely, effortlessly and naturally different. I’ve never heard their every twist and turn served up as quite the succession of changing sound worlds as appears here.
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