Vivaldi Flute Concertos, Volume 2

This second Naxos instalment of La stravaganza is as welcome as the first; RV441 is a real bonus - and all at bargain price

Author: 
John Duarte
Vivaldi Flute Concertos, Volume 2Vivaldi Flute Concertos, Volume 2
Vivaldi: Wind ConcertosVivaldi: Wind Concertos

VIVALDI Flute Concertos, Volume 2

  • (6) Concerti for Flute and Strings
  • Concerto for Flute/Recorder and Strings
  • (12) Concerti for Violin and Strings, '(La) strava, No. 10 in C minor, RV196
  • (12) Concerti for Violin and Strings, '(La) strava, No. 11 in D minor, RV204
  • (12) Concerti for Violin and Strings, '(La) strava, No. 12 in G, RV298
  • (12) Concerti for Violin and Strings, '(La) strava, No. 7 in C, RV185
  • (12) Concerti for Violin and Strings, '(La) strava, No. 8 in D minor, RV249
  • (12) Concerti for Violin and Strings, '(La) strava, No. 9 in F, RV284

The recording of the first six violin concertos was enthusiastically reviewed by Nicholas Anderson (Naxos, 10/99), and I can do no less for that of the remainder. The instruments are modern and tuned to concert pitch, but so stylistically aware are their players that only those who suffer from perfect pitch are likely to be troubled by it. While recordings of L'estro armonico ('The Four Seasons') have proliferated, La stravaganza has been recorded comparatively rarely in its entirety, which, given its extraordinary level of creativity, is unfortunate.
Of those so far issued, my favourite has been that by Monica Huggett with the AAM (L'Oiseau-Lyre, 3/87 - nla) but though Andrew Watkinson's lines do not have quite the same seductively sinuous quality as Huggett's, they are nevertheless outstandingly respectful of nuance, finely drawn and, in their embellishments, imaginative, smoothly flowing and utterly convincing. The tempos do not differ significantly from those adopted by Huggett/ AAM, and all sound comfortable. The slow movements of these concertos are some of the most beautiful Vivaldi ever wrote, and it is only in the Adagio of No 8 that the balance of the recording falters; the harpsichord's arpeggios (cf the Adagio molto of 'Autumn') might have been allowed a little more prominence. Read what NA and I have written; if we have persuaded you to sample the delights of La stravaganza in this recording our efforts will not have been in vain.
The flute concertos have certainly not been neglected on disc, and there is a wide choice of 'authentic' and middle-of-the-road versions played on both traverse flute and recorder; this present selection is in the MOR vein and faces numerous competitors. In the flute concertos Bela Drahos is a superb soloist, as smooth as silk and agile as a kitten, and whose flights of fanciful embellishment might have won Vivaldi's approval. The Esterhazy Sinfonia sounds a little beefy at times in its opening statements, but in the presence of the soloist its touch is appropriately light, and the third Largo ('Il sonno'), of Op 10 No 2, 'La notte', is impressively hushed. The outer movements of the bonus concerto, R441, dance on the lightest of feet; the work was originally written for the recorder, but on whichever instrument it is played, you wonder why it has no other currently listed recording. This present one would carry my warm recommendation even if it were not at bargain price.
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