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Antonio VIVALDI (1678 - 1741): "Concerti da camera - Complete Chamber Concertos"

Collegium Pro Musica

rec: Oct 17 - 22, 2011 & Jan 24 - 26, 2012, Rovigo, Oratorio di S. Rocco, Grignano Polesine
Brilliant Classics - 94332 (3 CDs) ( 2012) (2.24'50")
Liner-notes: E/I
Cover & track-list

Concerto in C (RV 87)b; Concerto in C (RV 88)a; Concerto in C (RV 801); Concerto in D (RV 91); Concerto in D (RV 92); Concerto in D (RV 94)c; Concerto in D 'La pastorella' (RV 95)c; Concerto in d minor (RV 96); Concerto in F (RV 99); Concerto in F (RV 100); Concerto in g minor (RV 103); Concerto in g minor (RV 105); Concerto in g minor (RV 106); Concerto in g minor (RV 107); Concerto in a minor (RV 108)a; Sonata in c minor (RV 83); Sonata in D (RV 84); Sonata in a minor (RV 86);

Stefano Bagliano, recorder; Pierluigi Fabretto, oboe; Federico Guglielmo, Valerio Giannarellia; Massimiliano Simonettob, violin; Francesco Galligioni, cello; Andrea Bressan, bassoon; Federica Bianchi, harpsichordc; Roberto Loreggian, harpsichord, organ

The concerti da camera belong to the best-known part of Vivaldi's oeuvre. It is not quite clear when they have been written, but they probably date from around 1720. Today they are quite popular among chamber ensembles, not only because of the originality and variety of musical ideas, but also because of Vivaldi's treatment of the instruments. All melody instruments are treated on equal footing, including cello or bassoon which have not that often an obbligato part to play in baroque chamber music. Vivaldi also offers alternative scorings, such as in the Concerto in D (RV 90): the first part is for either transverse flute, recorder or violin, the second for oboe or violin, and the lowest for cello or bassoon. Moreover, most concertos include virtuosic passages for one or several instruments. And, last but not least, many concertos have parts for recorder, an instrument for which not that much solo music was written in Vivaldi's time.

The present set of three discs pretends to include the "Complete Chamber Concertos", as the reverse of the tray says. However, that should be taken with a grain of salt. In fact, several of the most popular pieces are omitted. Among them are the Concerto in F (RV 98), with the nickname Tempesta di mare, the Concerto in g minor (RV 104), known as La notte, and the Concerto in D 'Il gardellino' (RV 90) . The Concerto in G (RV 101) has also been left out. What they have in common is that these are early versions of concertos which were included in Vivaldi's op. 10, with the scoring of transverse flute, strings and bc. These were printed in 1729, when the recorder was about to become obsolete and overshadowed by the transverse flute. It is rather odd that the original versions are not included in this recording, as they are very different from the later reworkings.

Also omitted are the Concerto in D (RV 93) for lute and two violins and the Concerto in F (RV 97), scored for viola d'amore, two horns, two oboes and bassoon. The omission of the concertos RV 89 and RV 102 makes some sense, as these are marked as "probably spurious". On the other hand we get the Concerto in C (RV 801), apparently a later addition to the catalogue. In other recordings it is called a 'sonata'.

That brings us to an issue which often causes confusion. Some pieces appear with the name 'sonata' in one recording, whereas in another they are called 'concerto'. That is also the case here: RV 83 and RV 84 are ranked among the trio sonatas in the Ryom catalogue, but RV 84 is called here 'concerto' (in the track-list I have followed the catalogue). The difference between these two catagories is negligible. An important source of music for recorder is the so-called Manoscritto di Napoli 1725 which includes, according to its title, 'concertos'. However, the individual pieces are called 'sonata'. In Vivaldi's oeuvre there seems to be no fundamental difference between these categories either. It is true that in his sonatas he usually follows the Corellian model of the sonata da chiesa with its four movements, whereas the concerti da camera have the three-movement texture of his solo concertos. There are exceptions, though. The Sonata in c minor (RV 83), included here, has also three movements: fast - slow - fast.

As these pieces are frequently performed and recorded, not that much need to be said about them. It is probably telling that I didn't find it very hard to listen to these three discs at a stretch. That bears witness to the features I mentioned before: the originality and the variety of Vivaldi's musical ideas. It is also a testimony of the quality of the performances, though. They are imaginative and lively, dramatic when needed, but also have intimacy, whenever the music asks for it, such as in some slow movements. This is an Italian ensemble and plays as we have heard many Italian ensembles play, but they avoid extreme mannerisms, which are sometimes present in Italian performances. The fast movements are played in swift tempi, but not at breakneck speed. It is all very musical and tasteful; that also goes for the ornamentation. The virtuosic solo passages are perfectly executed.

This production may not quite bring what it promises as far as the completeness is concerned, this is a very pleasant and compelling recording of some of Vivaldi's finest music.

Johan van Veen ( 2013)

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