Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in D, RV 208 (Grosso Mogul); Violin Concerto in C, RV 187; Violin Concerto in D, RV 234 (L’Inquietudine); Violin Concerto in E minor, RV 277 (Il Favorito); Concerto for Four Violins and Cello in B minor, RV 580

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COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Onyx
ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi
WORKS: Violin Concerto in D, RV 208 (Grosso Mogul); Violin Concerto in C, RV 187; Violin Concerto in D, RV 234 (L’Inquietudine); Violin Concerto in E minor, RV 277 (Il Favorito); Concerto for Four Violins and Cello in B minor, RV 580
PERFORMER: Viktoria Mullova (violin); Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini
CATALOGUE NO: 4001
Mullova is no stranger to gut strings and period performance – she did it memorably in her Beethoven and Mendelssohn concertos with Gardiner (Philips, reviewed August 2003), and now she’s teamed up with one of the most sparkling of the Baroque bands around. They have the first word with their vigorous attack in the D major concerto (RV 208), and when Mullova enters, she pushes the tempo even more urgently. In the slow movement, she weaves arabesques around the highly decorated lute and harpsichord continuo with a rubato that’s free and natural, before the finale sees a return to the energy of the opening. Three of the violinists from the ensemble join her in the B minor concerto, making a splendid team, unanimous in rhythm and ornamentation, and in lightness of attack in the central section of the slow movement.

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For the other three concertos, Mullova’s on her own. The C major is the least exciting, with some formulaic sequences in its outer movements. But the D major (RV 234) has a delightful unpredictability about some of the harmonic progressions, and throughout the disc there’s never any lack of interest in the texture of the music, with variety of articulation and dynamic from the strings and weight in the continuo. The recording is bright and consistently detailed. Martin Cotton