WORKS: Complete Cello Concertos, Vols 1-4
PERFORMER: Raphael Wallfisch (cello); City of London Sinfonia/Nicholas Kraemer
CATALOGUE NO: 8.550907/8/9/10 DDD
Naxos intend to record Vivaldi’s entire orchestral corpus, and Raphael Wallfisch’s integral four-disc survey of the 27 cello concertos inaugurates this visionary, though plainly Herculean undertaking. Soloist and orchestra employ modern instruments; director Nicholas Kraemer contends that authentic protocols can be ably met by contemporary ensembles and, in articulation, style and ornamentation, these pristine, engaging readings have little to fear from period practitioners. Wallfisch’s pointed, erudite and spirited playing is supported with enlightened restraint by the CLS, directed from either harpsichord or chamber organ by Kraemer, whose sensitive continuo team merits high praise throughout.
Without exception, these Concertos adopt an orthodox fast-slow-fast three-movement format. Wallfisch, dutifully observant in matters of textual fidelity, plays outer movements with verve, energy and lucidity, such that high-register passagework, an omnipresent feature of these works, is enunciated with the pin-sharp focus of Canaletto’s images of 18th-century Venice, which adorn the covers of these issues. Slow movements have suitable gravity.
Wallfisch’s athletic, commendably intelligent accounts claim unqualified recommendation, though an additional Naxos release, devoted to six of Vivaldi’s Wind Concertos, and the orchestral Sinfonia in D, RV 122, is hardly less captivating. Solo contributions are uniformly admirable, and the recordings themselves are superlative. With performances of this calibre, and in demonstration quality sound, one marvels that Naxos can offer so much for so little! A triumphant debut for what seems destined to become one of the legendary recording projects of the decade. Michael Jameson