Vivaldi: Flute Concertos

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COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Flute Concertos
PERFORMER: Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute); I Solisti Veneti/Claudio Scimone
CATALOGUE NO: 2292 45828-2 ADD
These discs are just two of a set of 12 reissued by Erato in celebration of the art of the great French flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal. Each, even a quarter of a century on, may still prove to be a bestseller. The Mozart disc includes the Flute and Harp Concerto in C, K299, always the most popular of the Paris period’s works, with the veteran harpist Lily Laskine. It was recorded in 1964 but the transfer to CD has been done very creditably and hardly shows its age. The other piece on the disc is the Flute Concerto in G, K313, which Mozart composed for a Dutch amateur named De Jean or Dejean. It was not composed in Paris, as used to be thought, but beforehand, in Mannheim: hence the revised Köchel number, 285c, rather than the old number K313, which would place it well after the Paris Symphony. Both performances have an irresistible Gallic elegance, although the Concerto K313 is with a Viennese orchestra (even if the conductor made his career in France). The cadenzas of the slow movement of K299 and the last movement of K313 are pure period kitsch (this was the Mozart relished by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in the wicked 1960s).

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The second disc is devoted to Vivaldi and includes many of his most popular ‘name’ concertos for flute and orchestra – La tempesta di mare, La notte, Il Gardellino, as well as five others. Claudio Scimone and his Padua-based I Solisti Veneti were one of those Italian groups that made history in post-war Europe, with their lean, swift, unsentimental sound, brilliant, clean string playing and unfussy musicianship. To some extent this exciting post-war Italian scene has been eclipsed by the advent of period orchestras and an even cooler approach by English groups such as Hogwood’s Academy of Ancient Music and Pinnock’s English Consort. In a sense these performances are period pieces, recorded in 1966, just at the centre of the Vivaldi Renaissance. They call up a deep nostalgia in many of us who were young then. HCRobbins Landon