Vivaldi: Le quattro stagioni; Oboe Concerto in A minor, RV 285a; Oboe Concerto in D minor, RV 465

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COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Le quattro stagioni; Oboe Concerto in A minor, RV 285a; Oboe Concerto in D minor, RV 465
PERFORMER: Andrew Manze (violin), Marcel Ponseele (oboe); Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra/Ton Koopman
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-94811-2 DDD
It takes a brave man to attempt a new recording of Vivaldi’s most frequently played concertos, but then Ton Koopman’s direction is nothing if not bold. Of the nearly one hundred recordings currently available, this new one is one of the most successful in conveying the extraordinary range of mood in this early programme music, from steamy languor to frenzied impetuosity. Koopman’s account of ‘Summer’, in particular, is a tour de force, conjuring up all the drama of stormy weather on the Venetian lagoon. Here and there he can’t resist turning the spotlight onto the harpsichord, with a sudden flourish or striking realisation – but such idiosyncrasies are a Koopman hallmark.

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No less individual is Andrew Manze – refreshingly unafraid to take a few risks in order to match Koopman’s dramatic conception of ‘Summer’, and aptly sweet-toned in ‘Spring’. It’s a pity his subtle ornamentation in the second movement of the latter concerto is obscured by the over-prominent viola motif (Vivaldi’s portrayal of a barking dog, though it sounds distinctly hungry here), and a slightly distant balance throughout.

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As a bonus, the disc also includes two oboe concertos – attractive pieces, stylishly played by Marcel Ponseele. Kate Bolton