Vivaldi: Violin Concertos

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COMPOSERS: Antonio Vivaldi
LABELS: Archiv
ALBUM TITLE: Vivaldi: Violin Concertos
WORKS: Violin Concertos, RV 187, 232, 243, 254, 281 & 283
PERFORMER: Giuliano Carmignola (violin); AccademiaBizantina/Ottavio Dantone


These six concertos from Vivaldi’s maturity refute Dallapiccola’s quip that he wrote the same concerto 600 times. They’re packed full of invention, novelty and drama: a bizarre forte molto bass below pianissimo upper strings opening RV 281; viciously biting bow-strokes and dazzling broken chord figurations in RV 232; a mysterious veiled tone created by not allowing use of the highest string in RV 243 and re-tuning the G string – scordatura – in the last movement.

Two concertos with ‘deletions, insertions, extra folios … glued or sewn into the scores’ are restored to their original versions, and RV 283 receives its world premiere recording. Its dynamic power culminates in a splendid cadenza from a book belonging to a Vivaldi pupil, ‘Anna Maria’ (who, it was reported, ‘wiggled with the beat’). She must, too, have been a fearsome mistress of her instrument. Carmignola is certainly master of his, not simply technically but expressively too. His bow almost talks as it shapes a motif, turns an ornament, sings a line. He’s well matched by 12 accompanying strings with lute, organ and harpsichord continuo. Their ensemble is first-rate Their recording venue, a church in Bagnacavallo south of Venice, gives a bloom to the instrumental sound, while the recording retains every detail and, although not in surround-sound, a clear impression of the soloist in front of the crisp accompaniment. Occasional slight tempo variations suggest some cut-and-paste editing – the constant pulse exaggerates the slightest change.


George Pratt