Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerto for violin and organ, RV808 [10:32]
Cello concerto, RV420 [10:46]
Concerto for traverso, RV431 [7:33]
Violin concerto, RV194 [8:27]
Concerto for traverso, RV440 [8:03]
Cello concerto, RV403 [7:26]
Violin concerto, RV235 [11:24]
Concerto for violin and organ after RV517 [8:31]
Manuel Granatiero (traverso); Marco Ceccato (cello); Anna Fontana (organ)
Gli Incogniti/Amandine Beyer (violin)
rec. 17-21 September 2011, Romanesque Church of S. Pedro de Rates, Póvoa de Varzim, Portugal
This is a well-balanced recital: two world premieres are featured in a line-up of two violin concertos, two flute concertos, two cello concertos and two concertos for violin and organ. The idea is to showcase the many talented performers in period instrument group Gli Incogniti, and I’ll count it a success.
Gli Incogniti is a small band with a wonderful sound, notable especially for its interesting continuo: organ, theorbo, harpsichord or guitar might appear in any given concerto. The group has a penchant for the musicologically interesting; they have here inserted a movement from one concerto into another, and, as mentioned, there are two premieres. Despite a long discography this ensemble has only appeared on MusicWeb International twice before: see this review; the other, much older critique is less positive. Their Vivaldi Four Seasons is very good, although it does not challenge my favourite, Europa Galante with Fabio Biondi. Here, on less travelled territory, they continue to prove themselves adept Vivaldi performers.
The first track is a good introduction to the ensemble, with its chamber-sized sound: the first concerto needs only seven players. There’s also a piquant continuo and the outstanding solo work of violinist Amandine Beyer and organist Anna Fontana. The largo slow movement is a duo for them unaccompanied; the organ part has been lost and was reconstructed for the present disc. There are other interesting duo slow movements to be heard here: in the concerto RV194, the solo violin plays for some time accompanied only by another violin. The bracing finale of the cello concerto in A minor, RV420, hints at ‘Winter’ from the Four Seasons. The last concerto on the disc has a brief fugue.
Aside from the two premieres, this recording contains concertos that otherwise appear only in complete surveys. A violin concerto in D minor, RV235, strikes me as a masterwork but has, according to ArkivMusic, only been recorded once before. The cello concerto RV403 enjoys more publicity, with previous period-instrument accounts by Anner Bylsma, Sigiswald Kuijken and Christophe Coin. All are recommendable, with Kuijken & Co. a good bit more expansively paced. They’re also all tuned differently - enough so that this reading sounds like it’s in a different key from Coin’s.
The album is a delight. Gli Incogniti is a period ensemble well worth our time, and they offer Vivaldi that leaps out of the speakers and communicates with urgency and vibrancy. The solo work from all involved is outstanding, and the acoustic-from an old church in Portugal which I am filled with a desire to see some day - offers a rich, boldly reverberant sound which never once threatens to drown out the players. With Fabio Biondi’s recordings being reissued by Virgin in cheap box sets, with Rachel Podger recording new sets of concertos, and best of all with Naïve’s popular edition, this truly is a good time to be a Vivaldi fan. Enjoy.
Brian Reinhart 

This is truly a good time to be a Vivaldi fan. Two premieres and a delightful mix of concertos for violin, flute, cello and organ.

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