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


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.


George Pratt