LABELS: American Gramaphone
WORKS: The Four Seasons
PERFORMER: Arnie Roth (violin), Patrick Stewart (narrator)Musica Anima
CATALOGUE NO: AGCD 801 DDD
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons never go out of season because there are endless new ways of performing them. Arnie Roth and his Musica Anima group edge towards novelty by including Vivaldi’s four sonnets nicely read by Patrick Stewart. He reads as Arnie Roth plays – with sincere expression and high seriousness.
The descriptive content of Op. 8 (Nos 1-4) appealed to those members of Vivaldi’s audience requiring easy-to-follow music appreciation. Is a correspondingly lighter touch desirable from Patrick and Arnie? Only time will tell. And time tells us that Trevor Pinnock’s old recording with Simon Standage, reissued from the analogue masters of 1976, can still hold our attention.
Alas, neither disc produces the authentic Vivaldi sound, since in both CDs an important instrument is omitted. A contemporaneous illustration depicts Vivaldi’s performing pupils in a very large organ loft. The numerous foreign visitors to La Pietà all commented on the organ’s presence, while the composer’s published music hits us between the eyes with ‘ORGANO’. The BBC Third Programme got it right in a broadcast of March 1953, but ever since then practically every concert and recording has widely missed the mark. When shall we hear the real thing? Denis Stevens