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The 5 Seasons

Vivaldi / Radulovic / Sedlar
Release Date: 02/14/2012 
Label:  Art Act   Catalog #: 4   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Antonio VivaldiAleksandar Sedlar
Performer:  Nemanja Radulovic
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Double SensDevil's Trills
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 49 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

VIVALDI The 4 Seasons 1. SEDLAR Spring in Japan 2 Nemanja Radulovi? (vn); 1 Double Sens; 2 Devil’s Trills ARTACT 004 (48:28)

In Artact’s booklet notes, violinist Nemanja Radulovi? explains that he wanted to personalize his performance of Vivaldi’s Read more style="font-style:italic">Four Seasons with his ensemble, Double Sens, composed of French and Serbian musicians. The result sounds, in the first movement of “Spring,” like an amalgam of the bristling energy of the Venice Baroque Orchestra with the lyricism of I Solisti Veneti. In the slow movement, Radulovi? introduces discreet ornamentation into a reading that sings sweetly. He warns that he frames the final Allegro with sections at a much slower tempo, and although listeners may not divine from the playing alone his programmatic purpose—the rising and setting of the sun—they may still be charmed by the performance’s overall sparkle. Still, it’s a surprise, though not necessarily an unpleasant one, when the tutti returns for the last time at a very sedate tempo. Radulovi??s “Summer” features what until about a generation ago might have seemed a quirky interplay of tempos; but Vivaldi has been subjected to such a taffy-pulling contest during the years after the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields’ pioneering performance in 1970 (on LP, Argo ZRG-654, and later on CD as Argo 414486-2) that nothing can any longer come as much of a surprise in the universe this side of Red Priest. The recorded sound balances the soloist almost in the middle, and from that position he broadcasts the consistently beautiful tone of his 1743 Jean Baptiste Vuillaume, a tone he bends and twists into a silvery, elegant ribbon of sound without a trace of period abrasiveness (though he occasionally engages in a kind of period wheezing). His virtuosity, though striking, only occasionally (as in the finale of “Summer”) calls attention to itself. The first movement of “Autumn” brings more sudden changes of tempo, which, while they may be individual, don’t sound particularly eccentric; neither does Radulovi??s graceful and imaginative ornaments in the slow section at the movement’s end. Occasional pizzicatos buoy the reading of the final movement, though some listeners may wonder what their programmatic intention might be. Still, his and the ensemble’s evocation of teeth-chattering cold at the beginning of “Winter” could chill even one sitting before a warm fire. And the geniality of that warm fire itself represented in the slow movement provides a highly effective contrast in this reading. The finale serves as one of the examples of passages in which soloist and ensemble allow virtuosity to run rampant—though hardly roughshod—over the music. If someone asked for a recommended performance of Vivaldi’s often maligned work, this one would make a tempting alternative—and perhaps an outright first—choice.

Aleksandar Sedlar (he’s listed both this way and as Aleksandar Sedlar Bogoev) wrote his evocative Spring in Japan for Radulovi? in response to the natural disasters there during 2011. Cast in four sections, two fast and two slow, it’s based in part upon a love song, Sukiyaki , and remains within a firmly tonal ambit while exploring the virtuosic possibilities of both the solo and the ensemble in a highly idiomatic and ingratiating way (compare Benjamin Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge) in telling its compelling story of cataclysm and hope.

Radulovi? and both ensembles exude refreshing imagination as well as hackle-raising virtuosity throughout the program, which pairs works from two eras that take similar advantage of the tonal and technical potential inherent in the combinations of instruments. After listening to this program, who could call The Four Seasons the most boring of musical works or charge the tonal system with exhaustion? Urgently recommended for both its envelope-tugging reading of The Four Seasons and for the coherence of the program as a whole.

FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

Concertos (4) for Violin, Op. 8 no 1-4 "Four seasons" by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer:  Nemanja Radulovic (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Double Sens
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; Venice, Italy 
Date of Recording: 05/2011 
Venue:  La Salle Colonne, Paris 
Length: 36 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Spring in Japan, for ensemble by Aleksandar Sedlar
Performer:  Nemanja Radulovic (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Devil's Trills
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2011 
Date of Recording: 06/2011 
Venue:  CNSM de Paris, Salle Ravel 
Length: 9 Minutes 45 Secs. 

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