Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi
WORKS: The Four Seasons
PERFORMER: Enrico Onofri (violin), Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini
CATALOGUE NO: 510116421-2 (NSTC system; dts 5.1; 4:3)
This was directed by Tony Sutcliffe for NVC in 1994, and it’s not clear whether it uses Il Giardino Armonico’s CD recording of the Four Seasons, or whether it’s a completely different version. The band are seen at the start of each concerto, playing (or miming?) in a church, and then we’re off on a tour of Venice, with what look like offcuts from a tourist promotion film. There’s no need to show footage corresponding with the descriptive poems that go with each of the concertos, but there might at least be some sort of visual counterpoint to the music. As it is, there’s precious little structure to the progression of the images, and the occasional rhythmic cuts between shots in the faster movements only highlight the general lack of invention.

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So, without any DVD extras or commentary, this is really no more than a sequence of pretty pictures, with Vivaldi’s score reduced to the status of a soundtrack – a pity when the performance is as sensitive and energetic as this one. And it’s symptomatic that there’s no more space between each concerto than there is between each movement: this is Vivaldi by the yard to provide the sonic atmosphere for a series of Venetian clichés. St Mark’s Square, masked revellers, pigeons, the lagoon, vaporettos, the odd Canaletto, and lots of canals and gondolas. And, just when I thought we’d escaped it, the inevitable Venetian glassworks. No, no, no. Martin Cotton