This premiere recording of six Vivaldi concertos is full of surprises. The works are entirely unknown because, unlike his other compositions, they were written not for publication but for substantial private commissions from wealthy patrons. Dating from his most mature years, they exhibit a style very different from his earlier concertos, which often sound almost mass-produced. Though they are still cast in the customary three movements and are full of the usual sequences, they are more unpredictable, dramatic, and daring; adventurous in form, harmony, and texture; with sudden contrasts of mood, character, and expression. The slow movements are meltingly beautiful, but no two concertos are alike, either in detail or overall effect. Some movements hardly seem to hang together; they appear to consist of collages of motives, punctuated by bursts of virtuosity… –Edith Eisler
This album contains the second group of six concertos published in 1729 in Amsterdam by Le Cane, the series making, with Opus 11, published in the same year, the now usual set of twelve...
…Mullova and Carmignola provide one of the most consummate displays of period instrument playing that I have heard. True masters of their instruments.
In tandem with the “Vivaldian ardour” (International Record Review) of conductor-harpsichordist Andrea Marcon and his Venice Baroque Orchestra, violinist Giuliano Carmignola – “a wonderfully accomplished player” (Gramophone) – has raised the bar on recordings of the Venetian Baroque master. This 7-CD set contains many of Vivaldi’s most engaging concertos, enlivened with playing “full of character, energy and sensibility” (BBC Music Magazine) – including “a performance of the Four Seasons as fine as any” (ClassicsToday). It also features Carmignola and Marcon presenting the complete Bach Violin and Harpsichord Sonatas
Vivaldi is greatly over-rated - a dull fellow who would compose the same form over many times. Such is the opinion of one of the great composers on the music of another great composer. Given the evidence of the present newly re-released complete Vivaldi cello concertos incredulity can be the only response to this assessment. But then Stravinsky was a man who voiced strong, often acerbic and sometimes outrageous opinions on virtually anything suggested to him. He had probably heard few, if any, of these cello concertos and irrespective would it have made any difference?
"Hans Werner Henze has written three violin concertos so far, separated in his output by gaps of 23 and 26 years. As you'd expect, they are very different pieces stylistically, and hearing them in succession provides a revealing map of the trajectory Henze's evolution has followed in his orchestral music. However, it's the two most widely separated works here that have the most similarities, suggesting how, in some important respects over the last half-century, he has come full circle. (…) The result is arguably one of the strongest of Henze's works from the 1970s; certainly that is how it seems in this very impressively controlled performance from Torsten Janicke and the Magdeburg Philharmonic." ~The Guardian
Intriguingly this disc documents three violin concertos all of which are noted in tonality. Within that broad highway the Vasks is the most original and prone to use of avant-garde technique, the Arutiunian is most emotionally ordered and controlled and the Bronner unashamed of heart worn on the sleeve.
There is certainly no shortage of recordings of these popular Bach violin works, but this one by the Dunedin Consort with violinist Cecilia Bernardini has many aspects to recommend it. At the top of the list must be the soloist's flair of Bernardini herself, playing a bright-eyed 1743 Camillus Camilli violin. In her playing you get the virtuoso energy of the contemporary Italian school without the hard edge, and there is a sense of play in her music-making that one senses Bach would have loved.