The Four Seasons; Concertos for violin in tromba marina; Bassoon concertos, RV 496 & 501
Peter Whelan (bassoon); La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler (violin)
Avie Records AV 2344
From the ensemble’s debut 21 years ago, Vivaldi has always been at the heart of La Serenissima’s music-making. But until now violinist-director Adrian Chandler has avoided recording The Four Seasons. The wait has been worth it. He opts for the slightly later Manchester version whose differences of phrasing and articulation he believes to be closer in spirit to Vivaldi’s original conception, and embraces a wholesale reappraisal. The resulting freshness incinerates the cobwebs of familiarity in the heat of La Serenissima’s proselytising zeal. This fresh approach grows out of the work itself, and as a period instrument ensemble La Serenissima fully understands what an imaginative continuo section can bring to the table.
Listeners who usually find the ritornello that launches Autumn a touch twee will be diverted by the energising thrum of guitar, and the slow movement avoids the customary lazy doodle for harpsichord right hand. If the sheer sweep and vivacity captivates, details are just as telling. The appoggiatura Chandler applies to the end of his first solo entry in Winter plumbs the chill of the grave, and in the perky Largo he delivers an object lesson in how to decorate the music meaningfully.
Two concertos showcasing Peter Whelan’s playfully agile bassoon are paired with two rare concertos for a specially constructed three-string ‘violino in tromba marina’ lending a touch of raucous exoticism.
Read more reviews of the latest Vivaldi recordings