LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Vivaldi: The Four Seasons; Rebel: Les éléments
PERFORMER: Midori Seiler (violin); Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Clemens-Maria Nuszbaumer, Georg Kallweit; chor. Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola
CATALOGUE NO: HMD 9909026 (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 picture format)
Having gamely resisted the siren-song of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons until now, Alte Musik Berlin was in no mood to capitulate without adding a twist – and in Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola’s ‘choreographic concert’ they perhaps got rather more than they bargained for.
The concept is explained in one of three ‘extras’ (the others featuring a somewhat self-conscious conversation between soloist Midori Seiler and Esnaola, and a reading of Vivaldi’s explanatory sonnets – in German); this certainly sheds new light on the notion of the peripatetic musician.
Lucky the cellos or harpsichordists rooted to the spot; having memorised their music the rest are more or less permanently on the move, protagonists in a choreography which includes an autumnal hunting scene in which Seidler, St Sebastian-style, is speared by a quiver-full of violin bows (later removed by the simple expedient of up-ending her and administering a smart shake), and a Winter where the musicians perform with their faces covered by snowy cloths before lighting a fire of abandoned instruments.
A bonfire of the vanities? In fact it becomes the slow movement ‘fireside’ at which Seidler sits, distracted into some musical near-misses – all corrected in the studio recording made later and released on CD (see Orchestral review, p71).
The playing on the DVD is, if anything, even more vivid, and Rebel’s Les éléments fairly leaps off the page – a complementary vehicle for Esnaola as dancer. Visually, though, some of the ideas are so crass as to oblige the viewer to keep a large pinch of salt helpfully close to hand. Paul Riley