WORKS: Violin Concerto in E minor, RV277; Violin Concerto in E, RV271; Violin Concerto in C, RV581; Violin Concerto in E, RV270; Violin Concerto in C minor; Violin Concerto RV199; Violin Concerto in D, RV234
PERFORMER: Mariana Sirbu (violin), I Musici
CATALOGUE NO: 442 145-2 DDD
Two discs could not more thoroughly discredit Stravinsky’s mindless remark about Vivaldi: ‘a dull fellow who could compose the same form over… and over’. Every one of these 36 movements reveals some novelty to surprise and delight. I Musici’s violin selection includes a double orchestra, muted strings without harpsichord, and vivid portrayals of ‘Sleep’, ‘Suspicion’ and ‘Anxiety’. Hogwood’s choice is more colourful still, from solo bassoon and strings – three of 39 extant concertos for this charming grandfather of the wind – to a brilliant palette of virtuoso violin and oboes, dazzling horns, cello, bassoon and strings, enriched with a varied continuo – archlute and organ as well as harpsichord.
I Musici and Sirbu are finely matched – she has led this conductorless ensemble since 1992. Her playing is technically immaculate, including a flashing cadenza in the double-orchestra concerto. The recorded sound, though, is rather brittle and intense –as is the spirit of their playing. Their exuberance is far from effortless.
For Hogwood, recording quality is softer-edged, reflecting the warmth and transparency of period instruments. He makes points all the more effectively by understating them, subtly shaping phrases and dynamics to create a fine sense of direction. George Pratt