In founding the Jupiter ensemble, the lutenist Thomas Dunford wanted to ‘rediscover the spirit of chamber music in the Baroque repertory. “Jupiter operates in a kind of fraternity, as if we had always known each other… Vivaldi’s highly contrasted music demands precisely this natural response – almost like improvisation.” Lea Desandre speaks of a “search for color and almost limitless inflections. This music was the “pop” of the eighteenth century.” The Franco-Italian mezzo, named ‘Révélation lyrique’ (vocal newcomer of the year) at the Victoires de la Musique Classique in 2017, performs arias from operas including Il Giustino, Juditha triumphans, Il Farnace and Griselda, as well as the famous ‘Cum dederit’ from the NisiRead more Dominus. The programme also includes four concertos, for lute in D major, for lute and violin, for bassoon in G minor and for cello in G minor. In addition to Thomas Dunford on lute, Peter Whelan on bassoon and the cellist Bruno Philippe, also a ‘Révélation’ at the Victoires de la Musique (2018), this flamboyant programme features Jean Rondeau on harpsichord and organ, Cecilia Bernardini and Louis Creac’h (violins), Jérôme Van Waerbeke (viola) and Douglas Balliett (double bass).
Among all the Vivaldi releases on the market, this one by the chamber group Jupiter stands out. There are some exceptionally strong soloists, both vocal and instrumental. Thomas Dunford, lutenist and Jupiter's leader, brings a continuo-heavy sound that's flexible and animates the punchy, percussive, somewhat improvisatory spirit of the whole. The apparently original popular song We Are the Ocean at the end also is questionable; it seems to come out of nowhere. Nevertheless, this is impressively original Vivaldi with many gorgeous moments.