Don Antonio – Flautino Concerto in C, RV443; Trio Concertos, RV 101, 103 & 107; Flute Concertos, RV439 ‘La notte’ & RV428 ‘Il gardellino’
Michael Oman (recorder), Paolo Grazzi (oboe), Alberto Grazzi (bassoon), Amandine Beyer (violin); Austrian Baroque Company
Fra Bernardo FB 2271745 50:15 mins
As a teacher at the girls’ orphanage of the Pietà in Venice, Vivaldi had access to the institution’s rich collection of musical instruments, which his pupils clearly mastered with aplomb. This recording conjures up the resonant and airy spaces of the Pietà’s church with a handful of concertos showcasing the various instruments at his disposal.
The chamber concertos are delightful musical conversations in which recorder player Michael Oman dialogues and banters with some of the most charismatic Baroque soloists on the scene today: violinist Amandine Beyer and brothers Paolo and Alberto Grazzi on oboe and bassoon. By contrast, the solo concertos were designed to show off individual players: here – wielding a battery of recorders – Oman dazzles with jaw-dropping virtuosity. What lifts these performances from mere musical fireworks, though, is Oman’s ability to change the recorder’s persona: in ‘La notte’, it dreams and whispers up ghostly sounds; in ‘Il gardellino’, it trills and chirrups like a goldfinch (or gardellino), and in the C major Concerto RV443, it sings virtuoso arias and lamenting melodies like an operatic diva. Add to this gutsy and dramatic playing by the Austrian Baroque Company, who clearly relish Vivaldi’s brilliant instrumental writing, and you have a winning combination.