Gli Incogniti with Amandine Beyer play Vivaldi

'Vivaldi was a supreme master of musical invention, as this recording triumphantly demonstrates'

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COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi
WORKS: Violin Concertos RV 228, 282, 313, 314a, 316, 323, 372a & 391
PERFORMER: Gli Incogniti/Amandine Beyer
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 902221

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‘A dull fellow who could compose the same form so many times over’ (Stravinsky). Amandine Beyer’s new disc splendidly dismisses such a shallow judgement from the start, a concerto-form Sinfonia to the opera L’Olimpiade bustling with energetic rhythm, and vigorous figurations with no hint of a tune. By contrast, its slow movement is steeped in extended melodic phrases. RV282 opens with an unpredictable grand gesture followed by arresting silence. Vivaldi calls for ‘scordatura’ (re-tuned) violin in RV391, subtly changing the instrument’s timbral colour. Martial calls emanate from the recently researched ‘Violino in Tromba’, a three-string violin with bridge doctored to produce a brassy rattle. While on paper there’s obvious common ground – Vivaldian sequences, dazzling arpeggios across the strings, languid aria-like slow movements – when imbued with the intensity and imagination of Beyer and Gli Incogniti these emerge as a constant stream of new colours, emotions and effects.

Particularly striking is their improvisation, borrowed from Vivaldi’s enthusiast admirer Pisendel in an exquisite Largo (RV228), ornamentation improvised in the studio (RV314), and the solo violin melody invented from scratch above Vivaldi’s given harmony (RV322).

Forget the cheap jibes; Vivaldi was a supreme master of musical invention, as this recording triumphantly demonstrates.

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George Pratt