Vivaldi: 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

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Philips
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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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