Methinks the notes accompanying this disc do protest too much. Only in the excessively purist late twentieth century would a writer feel the necessity to enter into such earnest defense of an arrangement such as this. Certainly, the eighteenth century would not have cared two hoots, and in any event to play The Four Seasons on recorders is far less eccentric than some of the treatment to which Vivaldi's poor old warhorse has been subjected. All that need concern us is whether or not it works. Yes, it does, at least for this listener. What is lost in power is balanced by a beguiling lightness of touch and clarity of texture. There's a surprising amount of color, too, achieved by the employment of no less than thirteen different instruments,Read more the sound frequently reminding the auditor of an exceptionally silvery-toned chamber organ, albeit one played by at least four hands. The performances are brilliant, Verbruggen finding an amazingly wide range of nuance in her assumption of the violin part, and her colleagues meeting the virtuosic demands made on them with an unerring skill that goes beyond the impeccable ensemble in passagework—the Adagio molto from Autumn, for example, is flawlessly sustained. Above all it's fun (there's a splendid joke in the rustic finale of Spring), the performers giving the impression that they thoroughly enjoyed doing it. The overall result to ears perhaps jaded by a thousand-plus Four Seasons is as refreshing as a mountain stream.
-- Brian Robins, FANFARE [9/1996] reviewing the original release of this title, HM 907153 Read less
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