Vivaldi: Concerti da Camera, Vol. 1

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LABELS: Opus 111
WORKS: Concerti da Camera, Vol. 1
Vivaldi wrote over 20 chamber concertos of which nine feature in this new issue, promisingly advertised as Vol. 1. They are immensely rewarding to play and very engaging to listen to. Vivaldi offers his audience a rich variety of colour drawn from a pool of instruments including recorder, flute, oboe, bassoon, violin, cello, keyboard and optional continuo extras such as Baroque guitar – it’s getting everywhere, nowadays – and theorbo. One or more of these instruments, in assorted company, usually claims obbligato status in each concerto and this shared virtuosity often adds an element of surprise to the musical argument. L’Astrée consists of Italian instrumentalists who demonstrate an intuitive feeling for the personal idiom of their illustrious Venetian compatriot. There are few if any ‘longueurs’ in these pieces; indeed, Vivaldi’s schemes are generally taut and economical. Add to this a pleasing variety of dance rhythms, a wealth of effectively imitative and playful part-writing and a quiverful of warmly alluring melodies and you have an Arcadian idyll of irresistible charm. Few pieces lift my spirits quite as smartly as the little, bucolic ‘La pastorella’, a rustic vignette with rejuvenating properties. Its performance here is vivacious and rhythmically alert in the outer movements, tenderly expressive and lyrical in the centrally placed siciliano. Nicholas Anderson