Notes and Editorial Reviews
The complete Vivaldi series continues in great form.
Somehow my review assignment has become a never-ending stack of vigorously-played period-instrument albums of highly dramatic Vivaldi violin concertos. It’s like I’m in the film Groundhog Day, except that instead of being Bill Murray stuck in the middle of nowhere, I’m a happy Vivaldi fan trapped in paradise. Last year there was Rachel Podger’s stunning two-CD set of the “La Cetra” concertos. Then came “Nuove Stagioni”, from Amandine Beyer and Gli Incogniti. “Vivaldi Con Moto” from Giuliano Carmignola was recently my Recording of the Month. Now Naïve’s edition of the composer’s complete works has arrived at an album which begins so thunderously, so excitingly,
that you’ll swear there are percussion players in the band. It was only founded in 2012, but the Il Pomo d’Oro ensemble is clearly one to hear.
They’re joined by Dmitry Sinkovsky, whose biography makes it clear that he won the talent lottery in life. Besides playing and teaching the violin and viola, Sinkovsky conducts a touring orchestra with the great mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and on top of that, he regularly sings as a counter-tenor. On this disc, the period-instrument’s youthful Swiss Army knife plays violin and leads the orchestra.
Half the concertos here are dedicated to Johann Georg Pisendel, a stern German soloist who led the Dresden court orchestra and was close friends with J.S. Bach, Telemann and Zelenka, all of whose music he often performed or even premiered. Pisendel adopted the other Vivaldi concertos on this CD into his repertoire, too - copying them out in his own hand from the originals. This theme does not mean that Vivaldi writes in a Germanic way: he’s still his usual fiercely lively self.
Surprises and delights abound. Aside from that startling, percussive opening, there’s the concerto RV 212a, which, unusually for Vivaldi, contains two long and highly virtuosic solo cadenzas. That said, the first movement’s cadenza was apparently not written out: if Sinkovsky wrote or improvised it, I am very, very, very impressed with the result. The grave minor-key slow movement in RV 370 is dramatic with big contrasts between its outbursts and its hushed laments. Also notable are the very prominent allusions to the Four Seasons’ “Spring” in RV 379’s opening movement and the vigour of its finale.
One of these concertos (RV 242) appears in Vivaldi’s Op. 8, the collection of 12 concertos of which four are The Four Seasons. Comparing to Fabio Biondi’s performance - my favourite - this one features a slow movement that’s three times as long. This is thanks to a slower tempo, some ornamentation in Sinkovsky’s solo performance and a repeat of the main melody in an even slower, more delicate reading that achieves exquisite, hushed perfection.
Vibrant, very forward sound captures the ensemble well, though you needn’t turn the volume up all the way. The booklet essay is as comprehensive as any other in this series, and includes notes on every single concerto.
Truly, Naïve’s complete Vivaldi series continues in great form - certainly in finer fashion than the album’s cover model is wearing.
-- Brian Reinhart, MusicWeb International
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