WORKS: The Four Seasons; Violin Concerto, RV253 (La tempesta di mare); Violin Concerto RV180 (Il piacere)
PERFORMER: Marieke Blankestijn (violin/director)CO of Europe
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-91683-2 DDD
The brilliant young Dutch violinist Marieke Blankestijn plays a superb old violin by Matteo Goffeiller (which is owned by a bank) on this interesting new recording of The Four Seasons plus the next two concertos as published by Vivaldi in his Opus 8.
This was a good idea both historically as well as musically, for the two concertos – entitled La tempesta di mare (The Storm at Sea) and Il piacere (Pleasure) – are vintage Vivaldi. The title of the whole set, Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione, might be translated as ‘The contest between harmony and invention’, or between the science of composition and inspiration, in which effort Vivaldi was eminently successful.
The performers have taken a great deal of trouble over this recording, which includes some extraordinary playing by any standards. For a striking example, play the lonely slow movement in the first concerto illustrating a dog barking at the moon (played on the viola).
If you like your Four Seasons on modern instruments, this is one of the most inspired versions you can buy. Those preferring original instruments might try Christopher Hogwood with the Academy of Ancient Music, who use the so-called Ottoboni version (a slightly earlier manuscript than that published in Amsterdam in 1725). Other recommended performances include Tafelmusik with Jeanne Lamon (Sony Vivarte), or Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Teldec), whose version is full of impetuous but convincing musicianship. HCRobbins Landon