WORKS: Le quattro stagioni; Violin Concerto in D, RV 582; Violin Concerto in C, RV 581
PERFORMER: London Mozart Players/David Juritz (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: BBCD 34 (distr. 020 8686 1996)
As modern-instrument performances of Vivaldi’s ubiquitous Four Seasons go, this newcomer from David Juritz and the London Mozart Players is among the most pleasing I’ve encountered. With two additional Vivaldi concertos as useful makeweights, this is an enticing, musically credible antidote to the plethora of dismally ineffective versions that have slunk into the catalogue in recent years.
Some, like Nigel Kennedy’s EMI account, have achieved massive popular success despite shaky aesthetic credentials, so it’s doubly pleasing to find that in David Juritz, Vivaldi’s Seasons have a well-schooled and expert advocate, keen to apply cardinal stylistic lessons from the authenticists without denying the power and brilliance that modern instruments can usefully afford.
The most recommendable modernist versions to date have been from Joseph Silverstein and members of the Boston Symphony (Telarc) and Itzhak Perlman with a contingent of the Israel Philharmonic (EMI). Both are superb, if you’re willing to accept a certain degree of virtuoso licence, whereas Juritz succeeds in making the music seem refreshingly spontaneous despite its over-familiarity. Another substantive gain is his naturalness. Where Perlman (marginal winner here, were his recording still in the catalogue) sometimes inclines to over-beautify slow movements (the Adagios of Summer and Autumn especially), Juritz plays what’s in the text faithfully, and manages to find enough there to captivate the ear without Romantic overlay. Telarc’s sonics, meanwhile, were always in a league apart, and Silverstein’s seductively atmospheric playing was effortlessly conveyed, though K & A Productions’ engineering for Juritz and the LMP has richer inner detailing and no top-end shrillness. Recommended, even to die-hard periodists. Michael Jameson