VIVALDI Solo Violin Sonatas
In two quite different ways this is something of an assemblage. To an extent that was not untypical of the period, Vivaldi had no qualms about modifying the existing versions of his works in order to produce new ones. The result often makes it impossible to determine a definitive reading, which is perhaps a pre-occupation of our times rather than his. In the case of the first two sonatas on this disc, the versions presented are not only less familiar but have not been previously recorded. The same is also true of the remaining four, though in these instances the reason is not so much to do with multiplicity of texts but rather with doubts about authorship. By the time of Vivaldi’s death, the immense popularity of his instrumental music in particular was such that others became adept at imitating his style.
Rather in the manner of beds that Queen Elizabeth is alleged to have slept in, claims of Vivaldi’s authorship are commonly to be found in manuscripts; some may be true, others not, but the task of deciding is not easy. Hence the fascination of these last four sonatas, which provide the keen-eared enthusiast with a sequence of considerable challenges. If that is one aspect of assemblage, the other is to do with the performances themselves, in which four different violinists, all playing on different instruments, take on individual sonatas. The inevitable variations in approach, style and occasionally command (there is some roughness of tone here and there, as well as uncertainties of intonation from time to time) should not detract from the strong sense of the extraordinary technical range of Vivaldi’s writing.