Concierti Particolari: Concertos and Sinfonias for Strings, RV 114, 127, 129, 134, 149, 151, 155, 158, 159, 163, 169
Academia Montis Regalis/Enrico Onofri
Pasacaille PAS1100 60:42 mins
These are ripieno string concertos, that is to say without soloist. Vivaldi wrote at least 40 such works, among whose wealth of ideas are some for which the composer is not especially well-known. Prominent among them is a predilection for fugal exposition, of which the Concertos in E minor, RV 134, G minor, RV 155, D minor (Madrigalesco), RV 129 and the Sinfonia Al Santo Sepolcro, RV 169 provide interesting examples.
Confronted by such diverting concertos it is difficult to cherry pick, but a handful of them always tweak my sensibilities and deserve mention. The Sinfonia – the term is to some extent interchangeable with that of concerto – in G major, RV 149, probably dating from 1740, when it was played at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, is an exuberant piece with innovative features. The Concerto in C major, RV 114, is one of three included here from a set of 12 ripieno concertos preserved in the Paris Bibliothèque Nationale. It contains French stylistic tangents and concludes with a chaconne. The Concerto in A major, RV 158, a long-standing favourite, has affinities with the early symphonists and is the most forward-looking here. Lastly, no self-respecting Vivaldian can overlook the all-too-brief Concerto alla rustica, RV 151. The moto perpetuo of the first movement is bucolic and exciting, while the conclusion features two oboes not otherwise heard in the programme.
Academia Montis Regalis, under its new violinist director Enrico Onofri is on cracking form, though on occasion I found the segues between several of the concertos too close for comfort.