Notes and Editorial Reviews
Nine cello sonatas by Vivaldi have survived. Six of them were published as a set in Paris in about 1740; that set, mistakenly known as the composer's Op. 14, contains the sonatas recorded in this release. The three remaining sonatas come from manuscript collections. All but one of the six works are cast in the slow-fast-slow-fast pattern of movements of the sonata da chiesa. The odd one out, RV46, in fact, retains the four movement sequence but inclines towards the sonata da camera in the use of dance titles.
The music of these sonatas is almost consistently interesting, often reaching high points of expressive eloquence, as we find, for example, in the justifiably popular Sonata in E minor, RV40. It is in slow movements,
perhaps, that Vivaldi's understanding of the instrument's cantabile possibilities is most readily apparent; faster movements, on the other hand, are tautly and idiomatically constructed. Everywhere Vivaldi reveals a pleasing feel for gesture and, indeed it would seem at times, caricature. Some of the gestures are bold as, for instance, those which introduce the opening movement of the A minor, RV43, whereas others are more flamboyant. In short, there is a considerable variation in mood ranging from athletic high spirits to profound elegy.
Christophe Coin brings to life these details in the music with technical assurance and a spirit evidently responsive to its poetic content. Particularly affecting instances of this occur in the third movements of the A minor and the E minor Sonatas where Coin shapes each phrase, lovingly achieving at the same time a beautifully sustained cantabile. In the E minor, furthermore, the guitar accompaniment adds gilt to the gingerbread. Fast movements are played with disciplined panache and with lightly articulated bowing. Intonation is very sure for the most part yet occasionally even an artist of this calibre has difficulty in finding the centre of his notes. This was a weak area in the otherwise fine CRD account of the same sonatas given by Susan Sheppard and L'Ecole d'Orphee. Whilst Coin has the edge over Sheppard in technical matters I would not hesitate to place her interpretations on a comparable level. Coin can be more demonstrative and he is freer in his approach to ornaments, but both artists have highly developed feelings for the poignant content of the music. There is a greater variety of continuo colour in the new issue, for whereas Susan Sheppard is accompanied by cello and harpsichord, Coin has a baroque guitar, archlute, cello and harpsichord variously at his disposal; CRD, however, offer all nine sonatas on two discs (available separately).
To sum up, this is a difficult choice. I shall require both versions since not only does the music itself amply justify several interpretations but also both these performances are fine ones.
-- Nicholas Anderson, Gramophone [4/1989]
Works on This Recording
Sonatas (6) for Cello and Basso Continuo, Op. 14 by Antonio Vivaldi
Christopher Hogwood (Harpsichord),
Ageet Zweistra (Cello),
Christophe Coin (Cello),
Tom Finucane (Archlute)
Written: circa 1740; Venice, Italy
Venue: EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London
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