If listeners had to commit to a single version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons for the rest of their lives, this 1984 BIS recording would be thoroughly satisfying choice. Superbly played, brilliantly recorded period instrument performances of this perennial masterpiece are all but a dime a dozen, and the differences between Hogwood's and Pinnock's and Harnoncourt's readings don't begin to make up for the fatal boredom of their performances. This version with Nils-Erik Sparf and the Drottningholm Court Baroque Ensemble would be an ideal choice because theirs is the freshest performance of the piece. Beyond their excellent technique and impeccable sense of style, Sparf and the Swedish musicians bring joy and enthusiasm to the music, and sound like they are in turn receiving happiness and energy from the music. There's real pleasure here, and real affection, as if the concertos were newly composed and these were their world premieres. Filled out with witty accounts of Vivaldi's F major Concerto for Bassoon and his G minor Concerto for Flute and Bassoon, this disc is a delight.
Karajan could be so expressive, with the big sound of the Berlin Philharmonic, in Vivaldi's very famous Magnum Opus. Solo violinist Michel Schwalbe is also terrific, quiet and bold alternately, as needed.
This EMI release of The Four Seasons gives violinist Sarah Chang top billing (as would be expected) and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra a smaller, less significant listing. As far as the quality of performance goes, however, Orpheus should absolutely be considered the star of this recording with Chang getting the footnote instead. This is simply not the case; from the ridiculously posed glamour photos filling the liner notes to the balance of the performance itself, this album is all about Chang. The most fulfilling aspects are the orchestral tuttis. Orpheus is truly at its best here, playing with as much energy and passion as the much ballyhooed recording with the Venice Baroque Orchestra.
Vladimir Spivakov is one of the world's best-known violinists and a highly regarded conductor, and is respected for his worldwide humanitarian activities. His hometown of Ufa is in Russia's Ural Mountains, the low range traditionally regarded as the division between Europe and Asia…
Pianist Jacques Loussier has certainly had an unusual career, much of it spent performing jazz interpretations of Bach's music. While his original works have been noteworthy, Loussier's most famous projects have been his transformations of Bach's music. In 1997 he tackled Vivaldi's Four Seasons, four concertos that he performed and recorded with his trio. ~ AllMusic
Anyone seeking a respectable Vivaldi collection by dependable performers will find this seven-disc set from Decca more than suitable for everyday needs and quite rewarding on repeated listening.
Drawing from two sides of the musical spectrum–Tango and Baroque–comes Lara St. John's newest recording, featuring the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and Eduardo Marturet. The disc features Vivaldi's seminal work, the Four Seasons, which is the top-selling classical work of all time, paired with The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, Astor Piazzola's tribute to Vivaldi. There is tremendous interest in this orchestra, and this is the first time it has recorded with the Ancalagon label following successful recordings with the Deutsche Grammophon label.