Vivaldi

COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Analekta
ALBUM TITLE: L’estro armonico, Op.3
PERFORMER: Elizabeth Wallfisch (violin); Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra/Jeanne Lamon

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CATALOGUE NO: AN 2 9835
Vivaldi’s title for these concertos is often tamely translated ‘Harmonic fancy’. The notes here propose that ‘oestrus’ implies ‘heat, impulse, frenzy’, qualities which certainly characterise the playing. Partly it’s a matter of tempo – Lamon drives her polished players faster than most. But there’s also great energy derived from crisp articulation, matched only by Hogwood’s exciting set with L’Arte dell’ Arco (Chandos), one-to-a-part and at higher pitch. Tafelmusik’s 13 strings, impeccably in tune, create a taut ensemble while slow movements are treated to beautifully expressive playing, a match for Pinnock’s fine set on DG Archiv. Tafelmusik plays eight of the 12 concertos in the set, three for solo violin (Wallfisch), all four double concertos and – strange choice – only one of the remarkable concertos for four violins. Recording, in a warmly resonant Toronto church, is excellent with the stereo spectrum aptly wide for the dialogue between soloists.

The box also contains a DVD treat, a ‘Four Seasons Mosaic’. This features the Western baroque orchestra, a Chinese pipa (lute), sarangi (a North Indian stringed instrument) and two Inuit throat-singers, blending them into a most imaginative new composition, inspired by Vivaldi’s Seasons, by Mychael Danna, together with some original pieces for the guest performers. It proves a heartening meeting of four cultures bound by a common musical response to the seasons of the year. The two discs are an irresistible buy.

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George Pratt