JOYOUS VIVALDI FROM AN OUTFIT THAT RELISHES BOTH FIRE AND TENDERNESS

By DAVID VICKERS, GRAMOPHONE

This collection draws from Vivaldi’s "Concerti per archi", concertos for strings and continuo without the flamboyant writing for solo instruments found in the majority of the Red Priest’s orchestral works. In his booklet essay, Lindsay Kemp describes them as "Vivaldi’s most joyous celebration of the art of orchestral playing". Across 68 minutes Vivaldi seems to have a seemingly inexhaustible arsenal of tricks, but it’s music that’s never merely superficial. All the music on offer here is unmistakably Vivaldian, although this disc certainly contributes another wounding blow to the old chestnut that Vivaldi wrote the same concerto 600 times. There is common ground in many of these "concerti per archi", but they contain a dazzling kaleidoscope of moods and textures.

Andrea Marcon directs vivid, strongly etched performances that often reach fiery intensity. Things get off to a sizzling start with the precocious beginning of RV111a, and the opening Allegro of RV157 is a perfect illustration of Marcon’s fondness for wonderfully incisive yet flowing continuo. But there are also notable moments of exquisite beauty, such as a gorgeously played Largo from RV127. The Adagio in RV121 is an evocative hushed moment graced with lovely theorbo playing. It is easy to notice the athleticism of the Venice Baroque Orchestra’s vigorous playing of fast movements, yet it is equally significant that the group perform Vivaldi’s slower music with tenderness. With so many stimulating and vital discs emerging, these are glory days for Vivaldi’s music.

http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/vivaldi-concerti-sinfonie-per-archi