Vivaldi: Cantatas, RV 671, 654 & 670; Concertos, RV 97, 104 & 105

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LABELS: Opus 111
WORKS: Cantatas, RV 671, 654 & 670; Concertos, RV 97, 104 & 105
PERFORMER: Laura Polverelli (mezzo-soprano); L’Astrée
This latest volume in Opus 111’s projected complete Vivaldi edition contains rarities in the three chamber cantatas sung by Laura Polverelli. The remaining items in the programme are three chamber concertos which presumably are part of L’Astrée’s complete survey of these pieces, nine of which have already been issued (OPS 30264). They are accomplished works, full of interest and rewarding to players and listeners alike. But I cannot muster quite so much enthusiasm for the chosen cantatas. While there are happy instances of word-painting, little of the music measures up to Vivaldi’s vocal compositions in other spheres. Perhaps I’m just having an off-day or, dare I say it, he was, but it is the chamber concertos, sparkling with vitality and, as with La notte, headily charged with atmosphere, which carry the day. The playing of L’Astrée is polished and virtuosic, though sometimes a little at the expense of poetry, especially in slower movements. Laura Polverelli is an agile singer who copes well with the wide and sometimes tricky intervals with which these cantatas are generously endowed; but even her skills have not entirely converted me to music which seems too often to lack the vital Vivaldian spark. Alla caccia dell’alme (RV 670) is the most engaging of them. Nicholas Anderson