Vivaldi: Dresden Concertos, RV 192, 569, 574, 576 & 577

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LABELS: Opus 111
WORKS: Dresden Concertos, RV 192, 569, 574, 576 & 577
PERFORMER: Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Gottfried von der Goltz
The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra is on its customary excellent form in this programme of concertos for mixed ensembles of wind and strings. These are pieces of enormous vitality and marked originality. What these concertos have in common is the Dresden connection, forged by the violin virtuoso Pisendel who visited Venice in 1716, met Vivaldi and became first a pupil then a friend of the composer. Pisendel was leader of the Dresden court orchestra, whose prowess was at least on a par with that of Vivaldi’s much admired orchestra of women at the Ospedale della Pietà. With the exception of one string sinfonia, all these concertos feature a profusion of obbligato instruments in a variety of colourful combinations. The best-known piece in the present handful is that in G minor (RV 577), whose obbligato colloquium consists of a violin, two oboes and two recorders. With their feeling for gesture and their intuitive skill in bringing character to the phrasing the Freiburg players introduce a degree of musical interest to the piece which is absent from many a rival performance. And their thoughtful ornamentation of its slow movement, which can so easily seem expressively bland and texturally sparse, refreshes it admirably. Among other delights here are some accomplished horn-playing in the two vivacious F major concertos, incisively articulated and delicately wrought violin obbligatos and effectively constituted continuo groupings. Nicholas Anderson