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aBritish Symphonies
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W.S. Bennett, Rootham, Moeran,
Bax, Rubbra, Rawsthorne, Berkeley
Alwyn, Grace Williams, Arnold, Wordsworth. Searle, Joubert


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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Violin concerto in E minor, RV 281 [11:24]
Violin concerto in C, RV 187 [12:51]
Violin concerto in D, RV 232 [12:39]
Violin concerto in F, RV 283 [13:46]
Violin concerto in E flat, RV 254 [14:43]
Violin concerto in D minor, RV 243 [10:25]
Giuliano Carmignola (violin)
Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone
rec. June 2012, Chiesa di San Girolamo, Bagnacavallo, Italy
ARCHIV PRODUKTION 479 1075 [75:48]

Giuliano Carmignola’s new Vivaldi concerto album bids to join the all-time list of Great Moments in Strange Cover Portraits. A coolly shaded Carmignola is seen seated atop a motorbike next to the punning title, Vivaldi Con Moto. Yet Con Moto describes this album surprisingly well: spunky, high-spirited performances of some of the composer’s most dramatic concertos.
 
I mean “dramatic” both ways. There are moments that seem ripped out of some great operatic tragedy, like the dark minor-key aria of the E flat major concerto RV 254 (with its startlingly jagged accompaniment) or the similarly moody but much less straightforward largo in RV 232, which flickers between emotional states with incredible speed: hesitancy, melancholy, fear, sternness, consolation. The music is theatrically extroverted, with invigorating parts for the orchestra and the violinist treated to Vivaldi’s usual ravishing melodies and electric solos. Our concert is bookended by two fantastic concertos in minor keys, the first of which (RV 281, receiving its premiere in this version) has to be counted a masterpiece.
 
Carmignola’s violin playing is superb; the Accademia Bizantina makes for a snappy, sharp backing band which does a great job projecting the drama in this music. The sound is very forward, like a front-row seat in a great acoustic, and the forceful bass is noteworthy. Somehow learning that the recording sessions were enlivened by a major earthquake comes as no surprise. This is proof that you shouldn’t judge an album by its cover. Or maybe you should. The motorcycle is silly, but “Vivaldi Con Moto” really sums it up.
 
Brian Reinhart