Bassoon Concertos, Vol. 5: RV 467, 476, 479, 481, 486, 489 & 497
L’Onda Armonica/Sergio Azzolini (bassoon)
Naïve OP30573 73:32 mins
Naïve’s complete Vivaldi edition steams ahead here with seven of the Red Priest’s bassoon concertos. He wrote 39 in total – a surprising number, given that the new-fangled instrument rarely stepped into the limelight in the early 18th century. It’s tempting to think they were played by one of the accomplished gals of Venice’s Pietà orphanage, but they were probably intended for the professional bassoonist Anton Möser. Certainly, each movement puts the soloist through his paces, with breakneck passagework, athletic leaps, long-spun cantabile melodies and buoyant dances.
It’s hard to imagine a more passionate advocate for these works than Sergio Azzolini who brings fiendish agility to the fast movements and makes his instrument sigh and sing in the pathos-laden, operatic slow movements. He draws pert ensemble playing, too, from L’Onda Armonica who capture both the visceral and the delicate sides of Vivaldi’s musical personae. Aggazini makes some interesting artistic decisions, enriching the string ensemble with wind instruments (following research that suggests this may have been contemporary practice); splitting the group into two instrumental ‘choirs’ in Concerto RV 497 to capture its vacillating moods of ‘restlessness and melancholy’; and grafting cadenzas from Vivaldi’s violin concertos onto RV 479 and 486 – adding to their devilish virtuosity.
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