Vivaldi: Recorder Concertos Op. 10/1-3; RV440, RV441 & RV443

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: United
WORKS: Recorder Concertos Op. 10/1-3; RV440, RV441 & RV443
PERFORMER: Piers Adams (recorders), Roy Goodman, Miles Golding (violin), Jane Compton (viola), Jane Coe (cello), Mandy MacNamara (double bass), David Miller (archlute), Robert King (harpsichord, organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 88015 CD DDD
In the field of Italian Baroque concertos and virtuoso display Vivaldi has few rivals. Each of the soloists on these three discs has taken full advantage of the ambivalence that often surrounds his choice of solo instrument: Adams provides a more bird-like rendition of Il gardellino (‘The Goldfinch’) by playing it, along with two other concertos, on the sopranino recorder; Laurin plays his selection on treble recorder and Gallois performs on a modern flute. The difference in interpretation is staggering, with each orchestral group stretching the contrast further.

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Ironically, it seems Gallois and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra remain most faithful to authentic-style performance. Gallois’s sensitive use of ornamentation and constant light touch makes Vivaldi’s often long and twittering passages more substantial; he moves from the effervescent to the eerily mysterious with impressive ease. This ensemble has no double bass to overpuff the sound or drag the pace, and the whole ethos is one of buoyant frivolity.

Dan Laurin is an astonishing alternative. His idiosyncratic sound is sometimes brash, but certainly thrilling. His naively simple tone can transform into a myriad of ornamental complexities in an instant. The Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble is a spirited, if rather raucous band with an over-zealous harpsichord player.

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Adams’s approach is more squeaky clean and straightforward. It’s purist stuff, with rigorous time-keeping, but as soon as his individuality shines through it is almost instantly obscured by the very fine, but too loud ensemble. Kate Sherriff