Another major discovery in the early music field courtesy of legendary producer Wolf Erichson, the Venice Baroque Orchestra and violinist Giuliano Carmignola turn in a performance of The Four Seasons as fine as any. Carmignola has the technique to take the music's virtuoso passages in stride (check out any of the finales) without ever sacrificing intonation or firmness of tone, and he doesn't "squeeze" out the notes as so many old instrument violinists today do. The interpretations offer numerous distinctive turns of phrase, especially at the ends of movements where, without huge ritards or abrupt stops, conductor Andrea Marcon manages a gentle landing that sounds both satisfying andRead more inevitable. He also gives the slow movements their due without minimizing their Romantic charm: compare, for example, his deliciously seductive middle movement of "Winter" with Harnoncourt's stressful, bump and grind approach. In short, Carmignola and Marcon manage to find that elusive balance between the need for formal coherence and the music's descriptive qualities, with the singularly satisfying result that you can take the pieces either as illustrations of the scenes that Vivaldi describes in the (thoughtfully included) poems preceding each concerto, or simply as delightfully tuneful music. Either way, these performances work.
– David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
No, the world probably doesn't need another Vivaldi Four Seasons. But, just maybe it wouldn't hurt to add one more--like this one, for instance. Perhaps it's similar to a relative that you like but don't mind if you see only once every few years. However, when you're in their presence, you remember how much fun you always have. Yes, there's no question that this is a fun – and exciting and entertaining – time with some of Vivaldi's most familiar works. I'll even go so far as to say that this is the most impressive Four Seasons performance I've ever heard on a recording. Pick your spot--tune in wherever you like. Try the Summer concerto's "Presto": you've never heard its scurrying scales played with such dazzling fury and dizzying speed. Or listen to Winter's opening Allegro: you'll get chills even if it's 90 degrees outside.
I know what you're thinking. You don't care if you ever hear these tired warhorses again. But if you're like me and you've been wondering for the last couple of decades where are all the great Italian string players--where are the descendants of those who initially played (and composed) so much of the music that remains in the standard repertoire, the ones who invented the forms that all the rest of Europe emulated, look no further than violinist Giuliano Carmignola (the equal of Andrew Manze in sheer charisma and virtuosity) and his colleagues. They don't just play this music; they possess it. They've actually found a way to make jaded listeners perk up and admit that the old truly can be made new. I promised myself I'd never revisit all of my Four Seasons recordings in one evening again--but I just did (all 12 of them), and as with my all-time favorite Harnoncourt Beethoven symphonies, I'm satisfied that if I got rid of all the rest, this version would serve me well for the rest of my days. There are dozens of Four Seasons recordings in the catalog, from daring (Gil Shaham; Fabio Biondi; Anne-Sophie Mutter) to refined (Jeanne Lamon/Tafelmusik; Standage/English Concert) to "traditional" (Menuhin; Mullova; Zukerman; Peabody) to novelty (trombone; flute; guitars; harp)--but you really haven't heard the heart and soul of this music until you hear this.
ProfoundAugust 24, 2013By Mary Lynn H. (San Antonio, TX)See All My Reviews"This recording of the Vivaldi has to be heard. It is exquisite. Carmignola is a genius. I highly recommend it even if you already have several "Four Seasons" because you have nothing like this."Report Abuse
Seems Just RightMay 8, 2013By B. Murphy (McLean, VA)See All My Reviews"This recording seems just right for the Four Seasons. It is free from the affectations and interpretive adjustments that you hear in many performances. The Locatelli pieces are a pleasant addition. Be advised that, if you rip this CD for a digital player, you will find that the tags are very long, which may cause path errors on your player. The solution is to shorten the tag entries with tag editing software."Report Abuse
A great CD!April 1, 2012By Christopher M. (Los Angeles, CA)See All My Reviews"Musically, this is one of the all-time best performances one could ever hope to experience. There is only one thing which keeps it from being rated 5 stars: It is not being made available as an SACD. What is wrong with Sony? The disc is DSD, but they punish the public and these great musicians by refusing to let the full glory of Vivaldi (and Locatelli's) music be heard in a manner which only SACD can accomplish. Let us hope that Sony will promptly change this misguided policy. When they do, this will be a 5 star treasure all the way."Report Abuse