Vivaldi, Concertos et al., D. Hope, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, K. Bezuidenhout
(released on February 3, 2009)
Deutsche Grammophon 477 7463
While some elder violinists continue to belittle the stylistic revolution heralded by the HIP movement, many of the younger generation, more open-minded, have embraced these new approaches to the vast repertory of music before Mozart. Hope, speaking to Michael Church for the liner notes of this disc, had his eyes opened to the possibilities while making his first Baroque recording, of Bach concerti, with the COE: "It changed my whole perception of what one could do with this music. I hadn't realized how far I could go in terms of improvisation and ornamentation -- or how rich the sound could still be when playing with such a small ensemble." So much better for listeners to hear Hope playing Vivaldi with incisive articulation, rhythmic verve, and a broad range of dynamic contrasts, especially with the varied palette of colors from the continuo instruments. Anne Sofie von Otter offers a lagniappe in the aria Sovvente il sole from Andromeda liberata, which left me underwhelmed as did her Bach recording earlier this year. If not an essential recording to own, this is certainly very pleasurable listening, especially the delectable "La Follia" trio sonata (op. 1, no. 12, RV 63) with Lorenza Borrani, one of the COE's violin leaders.
Vivaldi, Concertos for Two Violins, G. Carmignola, V. Mullova, Venice Baroque Orchestra, A. Marcon
(released on November 11, 2008)
Archiv 477 7466
The programming idea is much more satisfying, too, focusing on a selection of six from the twenty-odd concerti Vivaldi wrote for two solo violins and strings (RV 505-530, plus 764 and 765, with a few in the catalogue incomplete or thought to be spurious). These alluring pieces, left unpublished by the composer, are rarely heard live or in recording, while the much more familiar concertos for this combination published in the op. 3 set and the Bach double violin concerto are overexposed. A nearly ideal pairing for what Vivaldi had in mind, Mullova (listed as first) and Carmignola each have more than enough solo flair to carry off the virtuosic demands of the evenly matched parts, with an ear for ensemble unity at the same time, with one another and with the chamber-sized orchestra. A striking freedom in tempo from section to section, exaggerated at times to the point of queasiness, is rendered with laudable consistency by soloists and ensemble alike. In an odd coincidence that seems like a conflict of interest, Lindsay Kemp, who wrote the CD's liner notes, also contributed a review of the disc to Gramophone.