Vivaldi Cello Concertos
With 27 works to choose from, it’s no surprise that these two programmes, both centred on Vivaldi’s cello concertos, have only one work in common. The playing of the G minor Concerto, RV416, neatly points the different approaches of Sol Gabetta and Jean-Guihen Queyras (and their respective accompanying bands); Gabetta more suave and elegant, Queyras more forceful and spirited. Queyras’s Adagio, with the lightest of accompaniments – solo lute – is especially eloquent; Gabetta’s ornamentation here is more elaborate and its effect more studied. In the finale, Queyras is more concerned to shape the fast passages and doesn’t feel tempted, as Gabetta is, to slow down for the soulful moments.
Both programmes take steps to vary the unbroken sequence of cello concertos. Queyras’s scheme, alternating the cello with varied sinfonias and concertos for the string band, is particularly successful, with a series of extremely lively (though on occasion excessively fierce) performances by the Akadamie für Alte Musik, Georg Kallweit contributing a beautiful violin solo in the Largo of the well-known Concerto RV565 from L’estro armonico. The two short Caldara sinfonias are striking pieces and sit well alongside the Vivaldi items. Among the cello concertos I’d single out RV409, a most original work in which a bassoon has the role of personal accompanist to the solo cello, the beautiful Larghetto in RV412 with a backing of sustained strings, and the energetic, highly inventive A minor Concerto, RV419.
The cello-playing Count von Schönborn provides the connecting theme for Sol Gabetta’s disc; his library contains some significant Vivaldi manuscripts, including the sole source of the sonata recorded here. Of the three Vivaldi concertos, I was particularly impressed by another A minor work, RV420, with its unusual Andante opening. The Leo Concerto is in gallant style and only intermittently interesting. For me its most appealing section is the elegantly pathetic Larghetto, which would, however, have benefited from a more flowing tempo. Platti worked at the court of Schönborn’s brother in Würzburg. With its finely worked contrapuntal tuttis and picturesque, melancholy Adagio, his Concerto, in this vigorous, poised performance, proves to be a real find.