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Vivaldi ³

Archiv has been pushing Vivaldi lately – a composer toward whom I usually experience benevolent indifference. But I am not likely to miss out on great new performances, whether it be a new opera (like Motezuma, reviewed by Charles), or a newly found choral work like Dixit Dominus or world premiere recordings of Violin Concertos RV 5837-5841.

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A.Vivaldi, Violin Concertos,
Carmignola, Marcon / VBO

These late Vivaldi Concertos (actually, they are RV386, 235, 296, 258, 389, and 251) are on Giuliano Carmignola's new disc with Andrea Marcon’s Venice Baroque Orchestra (released on July 4th) and it’s a showcase of exciting, virtuosic Baroque fiddling and the highly skilled craftsmanship of Vivaldi, who churns out one charming tune after another. There is much wonderful and nothing wrong with this disc – and Vivaldi lovers need not hesitate. If I fail to warm up completely, it may just be the above-mentioned indifference to hearing yet another Vivaldi concerto, no matter how many experts allege that it ‘once again shows how varied Vivaldi’s style was’. For better or worse, it’s unmistakably Vivaldi and I have a hard time shaking the suspicion that music like this could not easily be recreated by an excellent musicologist and Vivaldi scholar, presuming a testosterone level like Floyd Landis’.

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A.Vivaldi, Concertos for Strings,
Marcon / VBO

I much prefer the more neglected Concerti di Archi that Vivaldi wrote – and Andrea Marcon and the VBO bring us 12 of those (3 are denominated “Sinfonia”) in an even more recent Archiv recording (released on August 8th). Because everyone in the ensemble (strings, continuo, lute) gets a crack at virtuosity at some point, the concertos (and consequently the recording) make for much more variegated listening, with a good deal of what some might consider the excessive (if not vapid) virtuosity of the solo concertos. The booklet’s subtitle reads “Joyous Celebrations of the Art of Orchestral Playing,” and that precisely what it is. This is just the disc for anyone who casually wants to pick up a lovely Vivaldi CD.

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A.Vivaldi, "Dixit Dominus",
Invernizzi, Mingardo, Agnew et al. / Kopp / Dresdner Instrumental-Concert

Of Archiv’s current Vivaldi bonanza, the most intriguing release may well be the disc they released on June 13th: “Dixit Dominus” is the title of the CD and the newly ‘discovered’ work; previously thought to be by Baldassarre Galuppi (1706 – 1785) due to fraud on part of a copyist. (Apparently there was once a time when it was lucrative to make a Vivaldi appear a Galuppi.) The very recording of this work is symbolic of how we react to ‘big names’ much more viscerally than the actual quality of the music, because when thought a Galuppi work, no one ever bothered to think about recording it; now designated a Vivaldi, it immediately gets a public life on a big label.

Actually, Dixit Dominus is so beautiful that it much deserved that public life, whether thought of as by Baldassarre Galuppi or Ignatz Leopold Nepumuk Küchelmeister or some other obscure (or made-up) Baroque composer. Of the 24 minutes, the introductory coro alone would justify hearing the entire CD and the gentle reading it receives under Peter Kopp, and his Körnerscher Sing-Verein Dresden and the Dresdner Instrumental-Concert do it proud. Roberta Invernizzi and Lucia Cirillo are the sopranos, Sara Mingardo the contralto, Paul Agnew and Thomas Cooley the tenors, Sergio Foresti and Georg Zeppenfeld the basses. As if to make up for neglect hitherto, the rest of the CD is filled with three – also very beautiful – Galuppi works: Laetatus sum, Nisi Dominus, and Lauda Jerusalem - all for strings, bassoon, and basso continuo with choir and vocalists.

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