Notes and Editorial Reviews
Concertos with Obbligato Organ:
RV 541, 542, 554, 766, 767, 779
Roberto Loreggian (org); Federico Guglielmo, dir. (vn); L’Arte del Arco (period instruments)
BRILLIANT 94059 (60:40)
Vivaldi wrote almost no concertos for keyboard instruments, as Alessandro Borin tells us in his fine notes to this recording. There are just the six here, all with violin, and one more for harpsichord. Two of these also add oboe and optional chalumeau (RV 779) or cello (RV 554). The first
thing to note about this recording is that it has some of Vivaldi’s most spirited and inventive music, ebulliently played.
As we quickly hear, the organ part consists mostly of violinistic figurations in the right hand with simple bass accompaniments in the left. The organ also tends to alternate with the solo violin in short phrases. In the matter of cadenzas, Vivaldi only wrote out the part in the first two movements of RV 779, but Borin argues that the simple chords in the score seem to indicate that some improvisation is necessary. The flashy, originally improvised, cadenza in the final movement of RV 542 is here adapted from the violin concerto RV 208, via Bach’s transcription of the latter, BWV 594. Nothing is said about any of the instruments, but Roberto Loreggian’s organ sounds like a fairly small positive organ. It is miked quite closely, so we also hear a lot of chiff and key-clacking, but he plays with great vivacity.
One of the most striking pieces is RV 779, also called a “Sonata for obbligato violin, oboe, and organ, and also for chalumeau if you want it.” It is in four movements—fast-fast-slow-fast—instead of the usual three. Alas, we hardly get to hear the dulcet chalumeau, which is mostly there for support.
The tempi are quite fast, even in the slow movements, so there are few moments of relaxation in which to savor Vivaldi’s long and winding lines. I am not fond of Federico Guglielmo’s rather nasal tone, which tends to overbalance the organ, nor of Francesco Montaruli’s occasionally scratchy sound from his cello in RV 554, but I am not sure that it’s absolutely incorrect. Nonetheless, these are wonderful pieces, played with enthusiasm.
FANFARE: Alan Swanson
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