Vivaldi Il Cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione
Long gone are the days when the only concertos heard from this set of 12 were The Four Seasons, and this recording is the latest in a fairly long list. Like many of those, this rendition is played on period instruments, which have often come to mean strong attack, primary colours and sharply articulated phrasing. Not here. The Avison Ensemble takes a gentler approach, especially in the slow movements: the barking dog in ‘Spring’ is not in the least threatening and the movement conjures up a sleepy pastoral scene.
At the outset of ‘Autumn’, we hear long bows and sustained texture, quite unlike the sound that might come from Il Giardino Armonico, for example, and even ‘Winter’ is ingratiating rather than spiky. There is rhythmic vivacity in the outer movements of all the concertos, but Pavlo Beznosiuk has plainly chosen an approach that suits his naturally mellifluous style. There’s little of the rubato that has become such a feature of Baroque playing, and the continuo is often unobtrusive, lacking that in-your-face quality that some other groups relish. The relatively resonant recording smoothes the edges even more.
In the booklet, Beznosiuk mentions how ‘richly characterful’ the other eight concertos are, which is true: I just wish he’d made the point in performance.