Rebel, Les Élémens / Vivaldi, Le Stagioni, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, M. Seiler, J. Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola
(released on September 8, 2009)
Harmonia Mundi HMD 9909026
Esnaola is the focus of the first half, set to Les Élémens, the suite of music by Jean-Féry Rebel (1666-1747). He lies on the floor, a fetal creature of the primordial ooze, as the work opens with a dissonant cluster (Le chaos) and then passes through the formation of the four elements and things associated with them. Esnaola shares the stage with the violin soloist, Midori Seiler, for the second half, a slightly odd but memorable staging of Vivaldi's Le Stagioni. The musical performances are splendid, as expected (with some odd sounds added in by decidedly non-period instruments), especially the Rebel half. Seiler seems to constrain the tempi of the outer movements of the Vivaldi concertos, likely at least in part because she has to play with all kinds of distractions from the choreography: she has a red ribbon pulled from her mouth, she is carried about on Esnaola's shoulders or back, rocked in a chair, covered with leaves and snow flakes, turned suddenly upside down, even "shot" with instrument bows as the quarry in the third movement of the fall concerto. Both works, brought together, give the impression of a life cycle, a human being born from the muck of prehistory who then falls in love with artistic beauty and mourns its loss. The ensemble has recorded neither work previously and, as stated was the goal in recording Vivaldi's most famous work, they have made something quite new with it.