Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

Performance (BOTH):
Recording (BOTH):
BBC Music Magazine
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons, Op. 8; Concerto in D, RV 226 – Largo; Concerto in B minor, RV 580; Concerto in  A minor, RV 356; Concerto in D, RV 562 – Grave; La verità in cimento, RV 739 – Sinfonia
Australian Chamber Orchestra/Richard Tognetti (violin)
BIS (hybrid CD/SACD) BIS-2103   67:37 mins


The Four Seasons; Cessate omai cessate; ‘Gelido in ogni vena’
from Farnace
La voce strumentale/Dmitry Sinkovsky (violin, countertenor)
Naïve OP 30559   61 mins


For the famously adventurous Australian Chamber Orchestra, a recording of one of the most over-represented works in the catalogue seems an unexpected 40th anniversary present to itself. In the event, it’s not even as if Richard Tognetti, the ensemble’s director this past quarter century, has anything particularly radical to say about the piece. Everything’s done with great care, buoyancy and tastefulness, but that very tastefulness can be over-respectful. Autumn’s first movement drunkenness sounds as if the Temperance League has been recruiting. And the atmospheric slow movement reinvents itself as a concerto for languorously doodling harpsichord. Better is the joyously incisive account of the four-violin concerto Bach reworked as a dazzling showcase for four harpsichords, while best of all is the first movement of the Sinfonia to La verità in cimento which crackles with the elemental force of a forest fire.

In contrast with Tognetti’s somewhat staid account, Dmitry Sinkovsky blows safe out of the water. With minimal strings and a continuo mustering two harpsichords, archlute and Baroque harp, he already sets himself apart from the crowd. But there’s more. The couplings, an impassioned solo cantata plus an aria from Vivaldi’s 1727 hit Farnace, are imaginative – even if their positioning between the concertos interrupts the ‘seasonal’ flow. And they’re sung with shapely, well-projected tone (though somewhat indistinct Italian) by the multitasking Sinkovsky himself.

As a violinist he’s got exuberance to spare, and the sumptuous continuo certainly enjoys its day in the sun. Sometimes, however, a spot of Tognetti’s tastefulness might not have gone amiss. You wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of the dog in the slow movement of Spring, and the opening movement of Winter is just plain pedestrian.


Paul Riley

Vieuxtemps • Ysaÿe
Vieuxtemps • Ysaÿe
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