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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concertos for Strings
Concerto in G minor for strings and basso continuo RV154 [5:37]
Concerto in B flat for violin, strings and basso continuo RV367 [13:37]
Concerto in G minor for 2 violins cello strings and basso continuo Op.3 No.2 RV578 (L'Estro Armonico) [9:16]
Concerto in D for strings and basso continuo Op.12 No.3 RV124 [6:43]
Concerto in G for violin, strings and basso continuo RV302 [11:05]
Concerto in A minor for 2 violins strings and basso continuo Op.3 No.8 RV522 (L'Estro Armonico) [9:50]
Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
rec. Chiesa di San Lorenzo, Palazzo di Torrechiara, Langhirano, Parma, Italy, March 1988. Stereo
TACTUS TB672258 [56:13]

Rinaldo Alessandrini writes in his long and interesting liner-notes that Vivaldi research has identified 478 works bearing the title Concerto. Since that was written the research has continued and we are forever seeing premieres of yet another. Vivaldi was not alone in being so prolific; Telemann was one such, and this has done a disservice to both their reputations. In Vivaldi's case this is compounded by Stravinsky's famous quip about him composing the same concerto multiple times. On the other hand, as Alessandrini says, the variety of structural patterns and the sheer fecundity of invention, make almost every ‘new’ work different. There is very occasional note-spinning but more often there is real originality from this most important of baroque composers. The present disc contains three concertos I had not come across before and all were a joy to hear.
This CD was first issued in 1988. The orchestral line-up of six violins, two violas, cello, bass and harpsichord is interesting for what is missing. Most recent Vivaldi discs have included various plucked strings, theorbos and the like, as part of the continuo. This flavours the music quite differently and not having them makes them sound just slightly old-fashioned, if that is not an anachronistic comment. The current view of 'authenticity', what is sometimes called HIP (Historically Informed Performance), is that Vivaldi would have expected a variety of continuo sounds. Here we have just a cello and a harpsichord. Nonetheless, few enthusiasts of the baroque are going to be disappointed in these lovely and very vital accounts. The violins are together to the left, leaving the right of the sound-picture to the more restrained lower strings. The principal violin soloist in the solo and double concertos is none other than Fabio Biondi, now much better known for his leadership of the magnificent baroque orchestra Europa Galante. His great beauty of tone is a pleasure to hear. The second soloist is the leader of Concerto Italiano Adrian Chamorro, also a very accomplished player. I should note that Alessandrini directs from the harpsichord. Those with large Vivaldi collections will undoubtedly have the two concertos from Op.3 L'Estro Armonico and the one from Op.8 Il Cimento dell'Armonia e dell'Inventione. The other three are less frequently recorded. This disc is rather short measure at six concertos - most collections manage eight or nine, but if these particular works fill gaps, or if you, like me, enjoy hearing different performances of familiar works, it will give much pleasure.
The recording is completely acceptable without being outstanding or particularly analytical. This is despite declaring the master to be 24 bit, a fact that is of little relevance when presented with a standard 16 bit CD. If the company really wants to make something of the higher resolution master they would have to offer it on SACD or as a download. To my knowledge they do not.
Dave Billinge