Lucie Horsch and The Amsterdam Vivaldi Players perform Vivaldi concertos

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COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi
WORKS: Flautino Concerto in C, RV443; Recorder Concerto in C minor, RV441; Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126), RV608 – Cum dederit (arr. recorder); Flute Concerto, Op. 10 No. 1 in F, RV 433 (La tempesta di mare); Concerto for two Mandolins in G, RV 532 – Andante; Flute Concerto, Op. 10 No. 2 in G minor, RV 439 (La notte); Giustino – Vedro con mio diletto (arr. recorder); The Four Seasons: Spring – Allegro (arr. Rousseau)
PERFORMER: Lucie Horsch (recorder); Amsterdam Vivaldi Players
CATALOGUE NO: 483 0896

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The charmingly naive picture in the back of the booklet liner notes of 17-year-old Horsch gazing at her recorder, as if to recall a forgotten fingering, belies her fearsome virtuosity and superb technique. It’s a reminder, too, that Vivaldi wrote much of this music for girls of around Horsch’s age at the Venetian orphanage, the Ospedale Della Pietà, where he taught for much
of his life.

RV 443 immediately displays capacious lungs and white-knuckle fingering, though, as often with sopranino recorder, pitch occasionally flags in sustained quiet moments. The dark, still opening of ‘Cum dederit’ from Nisi Dominus, tenor recorder ‘singing’ the text, is profoundly evocative, as is Jean-Jaques Rousseau’s transcription of ‘Spring’ from The Seasons, for recorder alone. Horst’s cellist father joins her in an imaginative arrangement of the Andante of RV532 for two mandolins.

Less successful is an aria transcription from Giustino: devoid of text and dramatic setting, it is here simply a barely striking melody accompanied by the quartet of strings and continuo.

Two of Vivaldi’s most potentially terrifying descriptive programmatic concertos are treated rather blandly compared with more vivid recordings. But this is a disc to buy, and display in years to come as the start of a distinguished career.

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George Pratt