VIVALDI Solo Concertos
In the course of a long and extraordinarily prolific career, Antonio Vivaldi wrote a considerable number of virtuoso concertos. Many of these were expressly composed for the musicians of the Ospedale della Pietà, the legendary Venetian orphanage which specialised in training girls and young women to become professional performers. Vivaldi’s relationship with the Ospedale lasted for almost 40 years; and while a number of the concertos on this recording were probably written for the highly talented female instrumentalists of the Pietà, others were conceivably tailored for the abilities of some of the most admired soloists of the day such as Albinoni and Sammartini, both virtuoso oboists, and Ignazio Silber, who was both a flautist and an oboist and taught at the Ospedale.
The selection here falls into two groups: concertos for solo instruments and strings (one each for oboe, flute, bassoon and cello), and three in the form of concerti da camera, in which groups of instruments are accompanied by a basso continuo. Information about the public performances at the Ospedale is scarce and largely relates to occasions when many of the inmates took part (this is particularly true when the choir was involved), and these concertos reveal a more intimate and virtuoso form of music-making. The results display transparency of texture underpinned by crisp and at times quite percussive harpsichord accompaniment, while the solo lines (sometimes engaged in dialogue) take centre stage. The Barocksolisten München turn in a dazzling sequence of performances which show off their respective solo instruments to great effect, with quite breathtakingly athletic playing in some of the faster movements and hauntingly elegiac moments in some of the central slow ones. It is the latter, of course, that provide opportunities for individual initiatives by way of improvisation, opportunities that are capitalised upon without exaggeration. All in all, this is a fine debut.