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Vivaldi: I Colori dell’ombra

Ophélie Gaillard (cello); Pulcinella Orchestra (Aparté)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

I Colori dell’ombra – Cello Concertos in G minor, B flat major, D minor & A minor; Concerto for 2 Cellos in G minor, Concerto for Cello and Bassoon etc
Ophélie Gaillard (cello); Pulcinella Orchestra
Aparté AP226   91.00 mins (2 discs)


The title, ‘the colours of shadow’, is apt. It captures that uniquely seductive, dark energy driving Vivaldi’s Double Cello Concerto in G minor, or the sharp chiaroscuro effect created by a dazzling sheen of violins against mournful bassoon and cello in the Concerto in E minor. Inspired by the labyrinth of lagoons in Venice, Gaillard creates an imaginative journey through Vivaldi’s cello and ensemble music, taking in cello and multi-instrumental concertos as well as vaulting arias, such as ‘Sovvente il Sole’ from Andromeda liberate (sung by Lucile Richardot) in which the florid violin obligato is taken by piccolo cello.

The composer’s fascination with the tenor instrument resulted in a legacy of nearly 30 works for bassoon or cello; leaving aside Bach’s own output, there’s little to compare with the enduring expressive power of these works. No doubt much of the music was written to keep the young virtuosos of the Ospedale della Pieta stimulated. One outstanding student must have been ‘Teresa’, who joined the school in 1737 and to whom Vivaldi dedicated three concertos. Sadly only the viola parts of one, the B flat concerto RV788, survived whose slow movement is here restored, a lyric gem. New to me were the delightfully airborne Concerto for piccolo cello in E minor RV409 and the sumptuous Concerto for two violins and two cellos RV575.

Gaillard brings a joyous and incisively idiomatic grace to these performances. What she may lack in the absolute fluency and charisma of Christophe Coin is more than made up for in this exciting programme and the dynamism of her Pulcinella Orchestra. Helen Wallace