VIVALDI String Concertos: in g, RV 154; in B?, RV 367; in g, RV 578; in D, RV 124; in G, RV 302; in a, RV 522 • Rinaldo Alessandrini, cond; Fabio Biondi (vn); Concerto Italiano (period instruments) • BRILLIANT 93315Read more (56:10)
This program was issued on the Tactus label more than a decade ago. That release now is out of print, and at any rate, this Brilliant reissue is significantly less expensive.
Nomenclatural issues abound. Three of these concertos also were assigned opus numbers. RV 578 and RV 522 are the second and eighth concertos, respectively, in op. 3 (L’estro armonico), and RV 124 is op. 12, no. 3. RV 124 and 154 are concertos for strings in the sense that the concertino group contains four violins. RV 302 and 367 are better described as concertos for violin. RV 522 is really a concerto for two violins, and RV 578 adds a cello to the aforementioned instruments. Brilliant credits Fabio Biondi as “solo violin,” but neglects to name any of the other string players. I believe these are Adrian Chamorro, Enrico Onofri, Enrico Parizzi (violins), Paolo Pandolfo (viola da gamba), and Maurizio Naddeo (cello). I can’t even tentatively identify the harpsichordist, who busily and good-naturedly contributes to the basso continuo. Brilliant’s budget-loving reissues are welcome, but in this case the documentation should have been a little better. Brilliant also has assigned a single track to each concerto, so if you are looking for a particular second or third movement, you’re just going to have to fast-forward. (To be fair, I think the Tactus CD had the same layout.)
The music and the music-making are superb, though. These concertos have been selected for variety of mood, as well as for variety of instrumentation. RV 578 is striking because of the series of terse, even forbidding chords that dominate the brief opening Allegro e spiccato. (It sounds as if it is about to turn into a Morricone film score at any moment!) The Grave middle movement of RV 124 is a poignant little gem, full of aching harmonic suspensions, and the slow movement of RV 302 is no less touching. RV 522 will be familiar to many, because this concerto was adapted by Johann Sebastian Bach into a solo keyboard concerto.
These performances have the advantages of period performance (clarity and character, for example), with none of the disadvantages (problems with pitch and tone, a tendency among its practitioners to exaggerate extremes of tempo and dynamics, and so on). No one tries to make a point—the musicians simply play the music with care and sensitivity. One forgets everything except how much one is enjoying Vivaldi’s endless inspiration. The sound is nicely balanced too.
I think this CD is easily recommended to anyone growing his or her Vivaldi collection.
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