Vivaldi: Violin Concertos, RV 254, 370 & 561; Concerto/Sinfonia, RV 134; Arias from La costanza trionfante degl’amori e de gl’odii, RV 706; La fida ninfa, RV 714

COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Avie
ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi
WORKS: Violin Concertos, RV 254, 370 & 561; Concerto/Sinfonia, RV 134; Arias from La costanza trionfante degl’amori e de gl’odii, RV 706; La fida ninfa, RV 714
PERFORMER: Mhairi Lawson (soprano); La Serenissima/Adrian Chandler (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2128
If I were forced to choose just one concerto by which to remember Vivaldi it might very well be the generously proportioned work for solo violin and strings in E flat, RV254 with which Adrian Chandler and La Serenissima conclude this attractively programmed disc. Stylistically, my ears tell me this must have been a late work. Both the outer movements contain early classical ingredients; indeed, in the tuttis of the opening allegro we could easily imagine a pair of horns providing additional interest to the texture. But for the many unmistakeable Vivaldian hallmarks, the piece almost could be passed off as one by an early composer of the Mannheim school.

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I know of only two previous recordings of this varied and expressively beautiful Concerto, neither of which has been available for several years. Adrian Chandler’s lightly bowed account brings greater charm to the music than either of them and he is given sensitive support by his string and continuo players among which the audible presence of a theorbo is welcome. The remainder of the disc, consisting of discerningly chosen concertos, as well as arias from Vivaldi’s pastoral opera, La fida ninfa, and a substantially lost work, La costanza trionfante, provides rewarding encounters. Soprano Mhairi Lawson highlights the affective contrasts of the arias with tonal warmth and requisite virtuosity. Her intuitive responses to Vivaldi’s tenderly expressive writing makes ‘Dolce fiamma’ (La fida ninfa, Act I) especially beguiling. In summary, an excellent disc. Nicholas Anderson