Vivaldi, Piazzolla

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COMPOSERS: Piazzolla,Vivaldi
LABELS: Nonesuch
WORKS: Le quattro stagioni
PERFORMER: Kremerata Baltica/Gidon Kremer (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79568-2
With typical ear- and mind-freshening perversity, Gidon Kremer has here appended each of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concertos with one of Astor Piazzolla’s Cuatro estaciones porteñas (Four Seasons of Buenos Aires), which contain references to the earlier works. Both composers write with a feeling for virtuosic swagger – enhanced in the case of the Piazzolla by Leonid Desyatnikov’s brilliant arrangement for Vivaldian forces – that is meat and drink to an artist like him. In the Vivaldi, Kremer discharges his duty electrifyingly, adding the odd naughty embellishment here and there (nothing much really), and recalling all the extremities of Harnoncourt’s early recording on period instruments – listen to the robust galop of the last movement of Vivaldi’s ‘Autumn’ Concerto for proof – though with an unrivalled measure of polish and technical brilliance. He applies the same sensibilities to the Piazzolla, and the players of Kremerata Baltica respond in kind. Yet for all his flashes of brilliance, his teasing references to dance-floor swagger, I am not entirely convinced that Piazzolla was much more than a workmanlike, sometimes whimsical composer, one who tends to fill space rather than create it and who uses tango as a more or less convenient peg for an idiom. The pieces are cleverly organised so that the recording begins with Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ and ends with Piazzolla’s, which is pleasant. Kremer’s own note is a touch pseudy, but it’s nice to have Joseph Brodsky’s poem ‘Clouds’ to read when the Piazzolla palls. Stephen Pettitt

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