Vivaldi: Violin Concertos, RV 177, 191, 222, 273, 295 & 375

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WORKS: Violin Concertos, RV 177, 191, 222, 273, 295 & 375
PERFORMER: Giuliano Carmignola (violin); Venice Baroque Orchestra/Andrea Marcon (harpsichord)
Although there are still many excellent violin concertos by Vivaldi which are hardly performed and therefore seldom if at all recorded, it has become a rare event to welcome a disc of almost totally unfamiliar pieces of this kind. ‘Almost’, because the first movement of the first concerto in this programme shares material with the sinfonia to one of Vivaldi’s later operas, L’Olimpiade, and its music will immediately be recognised by seasoned Vivaldians. As for the remaining five violin concertos chosen by soloist Giuliano Carmignola, the Venice Baroque Orchestra and its director, Andrea Marcon, their ‘premiere recording’ status is, I believe, watertight. This recently founded ensemble is on terrific form, responding to the music’s vitality, poetry and rich fantasy with spontaneous enthusiasm and rewarding insight. Northern temperament may at first be reticent in partaking fully of all the warm, passionate gestures of these impeccably disciplined musicians (I’m thinking particularly of continuo realisations); but their complete avoidance of any facile gimmicks or temptation to play to the gallery carried me along with a shared ardour. These are beautifully and by no means always conventionally crafted pieces, full of pleasing ideas and suffused with individuality. Carmignola’s playing of them overlooks no detail, revealing at every turn a fine musical judgement which is supported by a crisply articulate and sensitive ripieno. Bravissimo! Nicholas Anderson