Vivaldi: Sonatas, RV 35, 40, 44, 51, 52

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: Sonatas, RV 35, 40, 44, 51, 52
PERFORMER: Badinage
CATALOGUE NO: CDE 84387
This is Badinage’s first recording foray into the works of Vivaldi. It’s also the earliest music the group has recorded. It is not easy-listening Vivaldi: the four members catch our attention with robust, energising interpretations. Allegros hurtle along with spirit, repetitive phrases are ignited with variety, syncopations bounce against a tightly kept metre. Paul Carroll is one of that rare breed of multi-instrumentalists who play flute, oboe, recorder and bassoon with equal skill. He takes risks, the pros of which far outway the cons (occasional rushed phrases or mini squeaks). This is a spontaneous-sounding Vivaldi programme and close miking further ensures the sense of immediacy.

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By contrast, recorder player Maurice Steger and his early instrument entourage sound fairy light with performances perfected to the tiniest trill. This fascinating selection of sonatas from the 16th and 17th centuries includes some originally composed for violin and other more simplistic ones most likely written for amateurs. Steger provides intriguing and emotional listening, drawing on his huge range of tonal colour and technical expertise. Although there are polished performances of Corelli, Marcello and Vivaldi, it’s the wholly inspired, dramatic interpretations of the more unusual sonatas by Pandolfi, Mealli, Castello and Mancini which make this CD worth shouting about. Kate Sherriff