WORKS: The Four Seasons; Oboe Concerto in D minor, RV454; Violin Concerto in G minor, RV332
PERFORMER: Enrico Onofri (violin)Paolo Grazzi (oboe)Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-96158-2 DDD
There’s no denying Il Giardino Armonico’s technical prowess, their perfect balance at all dynamic levels, their faultless attack at sudden frantic outbursts, their togetherness whenever they speed up or slow down. The question is whether the outbursts should be so frantic, the dynamic contrasts so extreme – and whether the accelerandos, such as in the first movement of ‘Autumn’ (track 7, 1:46), should be there at all. This is Vivaldi painted in garish colours – Millet reinterpreted by Toulouse-Lautrec. At the start of ‘Summer’ I thought the recording level had suddenly dropped, but it was just a particularly hushed pianissimo. I wonder what Vivaldi would have made of it all.
Yet, in spite of the inept ear-catching effects and exaggerations, there are passages where the real Vivaldi emerges for a while and the enormous potential of this ensemble can be appreciated. In the two concertos used as fill-ups (from the same Op. 8 set as The Four Seasons) they seem to have a change of heart and come much nearer to apt Baroque playing.
If this is the sort of idiosyncratic performance you want, then go ahead and buy it. I prefer my Vivaldi gentler than this and less tortured by eccentricity. Wadham Sutton