The Mandolin Seasons
Piazzolla: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires; Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
Jacob Reuven (mandolin); Sinfonietta Leipzig/Omer Meir Wellber (accordion)
Hyperion CDA68357 66:33 mins
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons shimmer through the Venetian mists in Jacob Reuven’s reinterpretation on the mandolin, interspersed with a rich, riveting take on Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, inspired by the violin arrangement of Leonid Desyatnikov.
With Reuven’s longtime friend, conductor Omer Meir Wellber, the whole album fizzes with energy and spontaneity. The familiar sounds of Vivaldi’s Seasons are rewired with the plucked aesthetic of Reuven’s wildly virtuosic mandolin, the Piazzolla mixed up with quasi-dissonant echoes of Vivaldi, the seasons of each composer interlaced. The Sinfonietta Leipzig (musicians from the Gewandhausorchester) bring spontaneity alongside fastidious clarity and musicianship, underscored by Wellber’s brilliantly improvised accordion/harpsichord continuo.
Everywhere is displacement, the Piazzolla fuelled by the grit of the dance, its Winter achingly heartfelt, Reuven’s mandolin poised, evocative, as Wellber’s accordion grasps the Argentinian heart. If there are jolts along the way in the Vivaldi, the Venetian’s work also metamorphoses willingly in places, perhaps most starkly in Winter, as Wellber’s ever-emotive accordion takes on the Allegro’s familiar opening lines, transferring a folkish authenticity, as if played by a fisherman on the banks of the lagoon. Elsewhere, moments of transformation, such as in Spring’s Largo, as the accordion quietly shares the solo line with the expressive mandolin, or the Adagio Molto of Autumn. This is Vivaldi half-heard through an early morning mist in a Venice back-street, theatrical, ghostly, out of time, snatched notes from history as if played by a troupe of players from the more distant shores of the floating city’s old empire.
Sarah Urwin Jones