Vivaldi: Concertos and Sinfonias for strings
Concerto Veneziano (Tartini, D. 96)
The group has already recorded a lot of Vivaldi concertos, but this well will not run dry for a while, even though the opening Sinfonia in A major sounded a bit too much like garden-variety Vivaldi. The other selections that did not feature a soloist were more pleasing, especially Baldassare Galuppi's Concerto a Quattro in G minor, which featured the contrast of a solo group (two violins, viola, and continuo) with the tutti. With a group composed only of strings -- six violins, one each of viola, cello, and violone -- it was otherwise up to the continuo group of harpsichord and the smiling, colorful Ivano Zanenghi on lute to provide diverting color.
For the works with soloist the group brought along its regular collaborator, violinist Giuliano Carmignola, who is guaranteed to add a dynamic, even diabolical flair to these showpieces. Sour tuning issues spoiled the first of these pieces, Giuseppe Tartini's A major violin concerto, D. 96, as Carmignola, perilously flat, slashed and scraped his way through the piece, here as elsewhere attacking the fingerboard with such force that it made some popping, percussive sounds. In the three Vivaldi concertos on the second half, he was erratic at times but his sudden outbursts, punctuated by stamps of his foot, kept one guessing. The E-flat concerto ("La tempesta di mare," RV 253) was the most heart-stoppingly virtuosic, with Carmignola chewing up the scenery and the cello and violone rumbling like thunder in the closing Presto.
Joe Banno, Venice Baroque Orchestra at the National Gallery of Art (Washington Post, April 11)
Michael Huebner, Venice Baroque Orchestra goes beyond history, to pure music (Birmingham News, April 3)
Head back to the National Gallery of Art for a lunchtime concert by violinists Christian Tetzlaff and Antje Weithaas (April 28, 12:10 pm).