Vivaldi: Le quattro stagioni; Violin Concerto in C, RV 171; Concerto for Strings in B flat, RV 163

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COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Opus 111
WORKS: Le quattro stagioni; Violin Concerto in C, RV 171; Concerto for Strings in B flat, RV 163
PERFORMER: Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: OPS 56-9120 Reissue (1991)
Biondi is not a particularly orthodox player, nor is he always a What Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante have captured in their recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is that wonderful esprit, bravura and finesse which excited audiences who heard I Musici and the Virtuosi di Roma 40 years ago. Too often, period instrument performances lose sight of the wood for the trees, becoming bogged down in the latest orthodoxy, sometimes resulting in effects which are self-conscious, exaggerated or even downright misplaced.

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technically reliable one, and we may question his judgement in matters of taste, just occasionally. But he understands very well that the purpose of the music is to delight his audience and, by and large, he succeeds. His chief rival where the Four Seasons are concerned is a fellow Italian, Giuliano Carmignola, a pupil of one of the Virtuosi di Roma’s most brilliant stars, Luigi Ferro. Carmignola and his excellent ensemble, Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca, take fewer liberties with the music than Biondi, but inject it variously with a ferocious energy and tender poesy, though their Divox recording currently lacks a UKdistributor. More conservative, though of comparable merit, is the DG version with Simon Standage and the English Concert, and those now nostalgic for modern instruments will still be able to find the famous first recording (1955) with Felix Ayo and IMusici on Philips or, more stylistically up to date, Gil Shaham and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestraon DG. Nicholas Anderson