Vivaldi: Flute Concertos, RV 427, 429, 431, 432, 436, 438, 438b, 440 & 533

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Opus 111
WORKS: Flute Concertos, RV 427, 429, 431, 432, 436, 438, 438b, 440 & 533
PERFORMER: Academia Montis Regalis/Barthold Kuijken, Marcelli Gatti (flute)
Opus 111’s new Vivaldi Edition, recently inaugurated with a recording of the composer’s only surviving oratorio Juditha triumphans, continues with a selection of concertos for transverse flute, strings and continuo with bassoon. The programme omits the six well-known concertos which Vivaldi published as his Op. 10, and one or two others, as well. These will doubtless feature in a follow-up. Soloist Barthold Kuijken manages everything with his customary technical fluency and inflective charm. Much of the flute writing is demanding and little if any of it is merely routine. Kuijken points up its virtues at almost every turn with playing that uncovers both the poetry and the originality of Vivaldi’s idiom. There are some particularly alluring moments here, particularly in slow movements such as those of the D major Concerto (RV 429) and to the C major one (RV 533) for two flutes, in which Kuijken is evenly partnered by Marcelli Gatti; and there are also two rarely heard incomplete concertos, both in E minor (RV 431 and 432). The single surviving movement of the latter may be recognised as a prototype to the opening movement of one of the composer’s finest bassoon concertos in the same key. While Kuijken’s accompanying string ensemble lacks nothing in spirit it is, however, too often sadly wanting in tonal finesse. Sour playing in the upper strings prevents an unqualified welcome to a recital which, in every other respect, is a winner. A mildly diminished star rating, therefore, regretfully awarded. Nicholas Anderson