Vivaldi Trio Sonatas, Op. 1
How do the Italians, amid their country’s chaos and corruption, bunga bunga, bureaucracy and near-bankruptcy, go on creating and innovating with such unstoppable energy? L’Estravagante is the latest in a line of elite ensembles to emerge on the Italian early music scene: hotshot violinists Stefano Montanari and Stefano Rossi (the Butch and Sundance of Baroque music) have teamed up with a group of crack continuo players who share a passion for 17th-century chamber music. That passion positively smoulders throughout these performances: in the frenzied Follia Sonata; in the yearning melodies of Vivaldi’s slow movements, poured out with operatic intensity; in the tender sarabandes, lovingly decorated; and in the throbbing rhythms that give Vivaldi its distinctive drive.
The 27-year-old composer no doubt set out to dazzle with this, his first published collection, and L’Estravagante do the same. The ensemble takes its name from the Italian word meaning ‘extravagant, fantastic, capricious’ and, indeed, nomen est omen in these extravagant, fantastic and capricious performances. This is some of the most fiery, spontaneous, unashamedly expressive and brilliantly excessive Vivaldi-playing on CD, with the power and élan of a Ferrari, the exuberant flair of Ferragamo and the playfulness and poignancy of Fellini. Bravissimi!