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CD: Crotchet

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Flute Concerto No. 1 in F, RV433 ‘La Tempesta di Mare’ [6:38]
Flute Concerto No. 2 in G minor, RV 439 ‘La Notte’ [8:33]
Flute Concerto No. 3 in D, RV 428 ‘Il Gardellino’ [9:13]
Flute Concerto No. 4 in G, RV 435 [6:39]
Flute Concerto No. 5 in F, RV 434 [8:31]
Flute Concerto No. 6 in G, RV 437 [8:25]
Flute Concerto in A minor, RV 440 [9:19]
Jennifer Stinton (flute)
Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra/Harry Christophers
rec. Concertgebouw Hall, Amsterdam, November 1991. DDD
ALTO ALC1059 [57:50]
Experience Classicsonline

The old adage that Vivaldi wrote the same concerto 400 times is a little cruel, but does contain a grain of truth.

Many of his concertos were reworked for different instruments, or combinations of instruments, and many more do tend to sound very similar. Whether this was self-plagiarism or skilful inventiveness on the composer’s part depends on your point of view. This new disc from Alto provides evidence for both sides of the Vivaldi argument. 

All the concertos featured are for flute. The first six come from Vivaldi’s Op. 10 set, with the addition of a separate work in A minor (RV 440). As the programme notes make clear, all of the Op. 10 works are re-workings of earlier pieces, usually featuring the treble recorder. The most noticeable of these is the first concerto in F (‘La Tempesta di Mare’), which exists in at least three other versions, including a more famous one for violin. Only No. 4 appears to have been written specifically for transverse flute, although that does not mean that there isn’t an earlier alternative version lurking somewhere in a forgotten library.

Nevertheless, these concertos make for enjoyable listening. Jennifer Stinton - playing what sounds to be a modern instrument - displays flawless technical skill and takes a warm, sensitive approach to the slow movements. This is most in evidence in the simple, affecting cantabile of the third concerto (track 11), and the sleepy largo in Concerto No. 2 (track 8), which Vivaldi clearly pulled from The Four Seasons. Also Seasons-inspired is the opening Allegro of the third concerto (track 10) - subtitled Il Gardellino (The Goldfinch). Its fluttering bird-calls are strongly reminiscent of the opening violin tweets in the ‘Spring’ violin concerto.

The accompanying orchestra gets few opportunities to really shine on its own, although the final Op. 10 concerto and the concerto in A minor offer a bigger role for strings and continuo. The A minor work, for example, has a fuller, rounded feel and differs from the others on this disc with its stately sense of grace and poise. The solo flute writing is expressive rather than virtuosic, and it points towards the French school which Vivaldi so admired, and which so admired him.

John-Pierre Joyce






















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