Vivaldi: Violin Concerto in G minor, RV331; Violin Concerto in C, RV 190; Violin Concerto in G minor, RV325; Violin Concerto in D, RV217; Violin Concerto in G, RV303

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COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Archiv
ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi
WORKS: Violin Concerto in G minor, RV331; Violin Concerto in C, RV 190; Violin Concerto in G minor, RV325; Violin Concerto in D, RV217; Violin Concerto in G, RV303
PERFORMER: Giuliano Carmignola (violin); Venice Baroque Orchestra/Andrea Marcon
CATALOGUE NO: 477 6005
Six unfamiliar concertos from Carmignola – all first recordings, apparently – which show how skilled Vivaldi was at turning baroque clichés in unexpected directions. There’s inevitably the odd passage where the sequences become formulaic, but the imagination is mostly working at full stretch. In RV 331, unexpected changes of tempo in the opening Allegro are echoed by quirky turns of harmony in the Largo. Carmignola finds wit in the first, and tenderness in the second, all articulated through subtle rubato which grows naturally out of the music. And he’s admirably partnered by the orchestra, which phrases sensitively, and knows when to attack the music, and when to be more yielding.

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The recording is bright and detailed, and it’s especially good to hear the inner workings of the imaginative continuo playing: the lute in the slow movement of RV 190 is a particular delight, with its effortless elegance counterpointing Carmignola’s flexible melodic line, a hallmark of his slow movements. And there’s more flexibility in the cadenzas, where Carmignola finds a truly improvisatory character coupled with virtuosity. That virtuosity also informs the fireworks of Vivaldi’s prestos and allegros – but Carmignola always allows time in his rubato for the music to speak. A sparkling issue. Martin Cotton