Violin Concertos, RV 187, 217, 235, 321, 366 & 387
Julien Chauvin (violin); Le Concert de la Loge
Naïve OP 30585 62:11 mins
Hard on the heels of the seventh volume of Naïve’s survey of Vivaldi’s violin concertos comes Il teatro, the eighth in a so far exhilarating series. As Naïve has demonstrated over the past two decades with its exploration of Vivaldi’s operas, the composer was very much a man of the theatre. The subtitle of this release seeks to remind us of the close relationship that exists between his instrumental music, above all perhaps his violin concertos, and his music for the stage. That reminder is unequivocally stated in the opening movement of the first concerto in the programme, whose orchestral tuttis sound for all the world like one of Vivaldi’s opera sinfonias.
In keeping with the previous issues in Naïve’s pioneering endeavour the technical and expressive level of executancy is high. French violinist Julien Chauvin and the period instrument ensemble Concert de la Loge, which he founded, explore the myriad subtleties and gestures of the music with infectious vitality. They enliven Vivaldi’s thrilling tonal landscape at every turn with intuitive and spontaneous responses to the music’s often mercurial character. Chauvin negotiates the frequent passages of solo bravura with seeming insouciance, and an eagerness to confront danger which keeps us on the edge of our seats. At the same time he makes sure that the remaining strands of the texture sustain an inherent interest whose existence is too often denied.
Slow movements, too, fare well under Chauvin’s bow and leadership. Melodies, often strongly aria-like, are treated lyrically and with an affecting expressive fervour.
Altogether, this is glorious music-making. Hearty thanks to Chauvin and his musicians.