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JS Bach • Vivaldi: L’estro Armonico etc

Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini (Naive)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

JS Bach • Vivaldi
Vivaldi: L’estro Armonico, Op. 3; JS Bach: Six Concertos after L’estro Armonico by Antonio Vivaldi
Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
Naive OP7367   201:04 mins (2 discs)

From Christopher Hogwood’s groundbreaking set with the Academy of Ancient Music some 40 years ago to Rachel Podger’s delectable 2015 Brecon Baroque release, Vivaldi’s Op. 3 has been well served on disc. And there are plenty of fine recordings of Bach’s keyboard reworkings of six of them (four for harpsichord, two for organ) as he gained hands-on experience of the new concerto style that was taking Europe by storm. Surprisingly, no one has thought to bring them all together – until now. Not so surprising, perhaps, is that Rinaldo Alessandrini is the man to have done it. Vivaldi and Bach, along with Monteverdi, are the cornerstones of his repertoire, and he unfailingly finds fresh things to say about all three.

Having previously tackled Vivaldi’s operas, a vibrant sense of theatre clings to Alessandrini’s every interpretive decision; and while he’s typically all over the detail, he never loses sight of how movements relate to one another. He always looks behind the obvious to find a nuance that can lift a phrase, all the while encouraging a spontaneity that results in the most seductive heel-kicking ornamentation. A spry, oxygenated account of the Concerto for four Violins, RV594 immediately sets out Alessandrini’s stall, embedding the virtuosity within a shimmering, alert soundscape that turns the many corners with sensitivity, structural acuity and the palpable sense of intoxication that pervades both discs. He bags the last word, playing Bach’s solo harpsichord version of RV 230 with a spaciousness and clarity that
similarly informs Lorenzo Ghielmi’s breezy navigation of RV 565’s transcription for organ. Just a hair’s breadth
separates Podger and Alessandrini; but given the Bachian bonus, and Concerto Italiano’s impish edge,
L’estro Armonico has just found itself a new benchmark.

Paul Riley

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