Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

AmazonUS  Amazon recommendations

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
12 Sonatas for Violin and Continuo Opus 2
Sonata no. 1 in G minor
Sonata no. 2 in A major
Sonata no. 3 in D minor
Sonata no. 4 in F major
Sonata no. 5 in B minor
Sonata no. 6 in C major
Sonata no. 7 in C minor
Sonata no. 8 in G major
Sonata no. 9 in E minor
Sonata no. 10 in F minor
Sonata no. 11 in D major
Sonata no. 12 in A minor

Fabrizio Cipriani, violin
Antonio Fantinuoli, cello
Antonio Frige, harpsichord
Ugo Nastrucci, theorbo
Rec: June 1992, San Michele di Gallareto church, Campomorone, Genoa, Italy.
CANTUS C 9608/9 [119.43]

Vivaldi’s opus 2 sonatas for violin and continuo are early works, composed around 1708. Originally advertised, before publication, as sonatas for violin and cello, they were published in the form of sonatas for violin and basso continuo, or "violini e basse per il cembalo", cembalo being the harpsichord. While the scoring changed, the tone of the sonatas did not - the cello has an essential role in these works, more so than that of simple continuo, often having a virtuoso part to play.

These sonatas all follow the three- and four-movement sonata model developed by Corelli. Yet the performance here is quite interesting - the harpsichord is not always present; some of the sonatas are played by violin and cello alone, others violin, cello and theorbo (such as sonata 6), and still others with differences among the movements of a given sonata (such as sonata 3, where each movement is different: first, violin, cello and theorbo, then violin, cello and harpsichord, then violin and theorbo, and, finally, all four instruments together). This gives this recording a greater variety than other recordings of the same works. The combination of violin and cello alone is particularly effective.

These are clearly works of Vivaldi’s youth. While some of the sonatas feature the flights of fancy that he would later use in the Four Seasons (such as the improvisatory cadenza of the Corrente in the first sonata, and the Preludio a Capriccio of the second sonata), the music is more often restrained and melodic. The long prelude of the third sonata is a fine example of Vivaldi at his most lyrical, with long phrases passed back and forth between the violin and cello. This is one of the most interesting sonatas of the set, mostly because of the varied instrumentation of each movement, which works extremely well here.

Sonata 7 is especially attractive, with its long, slow, haunting phrases that open the prelude. Cipriani shows excellent tone and articulation on the violin here, as does Fantinuoli on cello. The contrapuntal writing of this movement is perfect on just these two instruments; the addition of the harpsichord or theorbo would mask the subtle interplay of the two tones. The allemande continues with similar fugal writing, and the corrente is a lively dance that abandons the cello to a simple accompaniment as the violin takes center stage.

Unlike most of Cantus’ recordings, the sound here is not perfect. The harpsichord is often too present and sounds a bit harsh, although the other instruments are well-balanced.

This is a fine recording of some of Vivaldi’s early sonatas. The performers express a great deal of feeling, and their unique choice of orchestration add variety to the music.


Kirk McElhearn

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board.  Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.This is the only part of MusicWeb for which you will have to register.

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: