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Pieter Wispelwey / Florilegium

Vivaldi Concerti

  • Type CD
  • Label Channel Classics
  • UPC 0723385100973
  • Catalog number CCS 10097
  • Release date 19 August 2002
Physical (CD)

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About the album

ANTONIO VIVALDI celebratedscorned lovedhated An excellent joueur de violon et compositeur mediocre was the description of his fellow-Venetian, the playwright Carlo Goldoni; and one Uffenbach must have been overwhelmed when he heard the maestro himself play a fantasy (i.e. a cadenza) which really terrified me, for such has not been nor can ever be played: he came with his fingers within a mere grass-stalks breadth of the bridge, so that the bow had no roomand this on all four string with imitation and at incredible speed. He was a controversial figure; many found his concerti wild and disorderly; in contrast others found them written on the contrary, in too simple and conventional a style (Johann Joachim Quantz). Whatever the final judgment might be, Vivaldi was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century after 100 years of oblivion.

One important reason for this was the discovery that J.S. Bach, who had always remained popular, had copied many of Vivaldis works, primarily in order to study them and later on to make respectful use of their material in transcriptions or arrangements. It must be established here that Vivaldi composed in a manner which, rather than conventional and easy-going, was on the contrary extremely inventive and varied. Even in his apparently simple and conventional works, the listener can enjoy the numerous subtle formal quirks and the constantly unpredictable asymmetries, e.g. in the phrasing of independent parts. One encounters extravagant melodies, often with wide, unconventional leaps of large intervals; in contrast there are also movements where there is no melody at all, but rather an ingenious series of arpeggiated chords which provide a consistently suspenseful sense of progression. It is true that the harmonies can initially appear somewhat superficial and transparent; but a closer examination may well reveal that Vivaldis highly characteristic harmonic rhythmthe length of time that elapses between changes of fundamental harmony, combined with changes in colour which are frequently extremely sharp, such as abrupt alternations of major and minor as well as chords of the seventh, ninth, eleventh, and even thirteenth, can produce a continually changing and imaginatively shaded harmony. The abovementioned superlatives, incidentally, also apply to the purely rhythmic aspects of this music: the ingenious use of hemiola, disguised dance rhythms, lombardic swing, and straightforward dotted rhythms guarantee an ever-present pulse of life. It is not surprising, then, that Antonio Vivaldi had numerous later imitators, regardless of his critics. Vivaldis concerto style, in particular, with its consistent use of the ritornello form and the three-movement construction presaging the later symphony, accounted for much of his popularity. His LEstro Harmonico, op. 3 (Etienne Roger, Amsterdam, 1711), was an extremely popular and influential publication in its time.

The composition, purely for pleasure, of solid, euphonious music, often with programmatic content, with well-thought-out orchestrations (typified, for example by placing the bass line in the soprano register, or a subtle alternation between 8 and 4 foot registrations), with virtuosically detailed articulations, and, above all, with an inexhaustible daring and enthusiasm, stamps Vivaldi as a most unconventional composer. His individuality and expressivity would surely not have been out of place some 100 years later in the midst of the so-called Romantic period, and it is no doubt this timelessness which his contemporaries could not or would not understand. Antonio Vivaldis passion and wit have lost none of their freshness today. The works on this CD are firm and incontrovertible evidence of everything just described. Livelier, more original, more romantic, more varied, more refined, more sentimental, more joyful, more impassioned, more whimsical, sadder, or more sensual music can hardly be imagined. Walter van Hauwe, November 1996

  • 1
    Larghetto In D Minor RV 295
  • 1
    Concerto In a Minor Allegro, from RV 421
  • 1
    Concerto In a Minor Siciliano, from RV 415 (orig. G Major)
  • 1
    Concerto In a Minor Allegro, from RV 421
  • 1
    Largo In F Major RV 190 (orig. C Major)
  • 1
    Concerto In F Major Allegro, from RV 410
  • 1
    Concerto In F Major Largo, from RV 407 (orig. G Minor)
  • 1
    Concerto In F Major Allegro Molto, from RV 411
  • 1
    Adagio In C Major, RV 109
  • 1
    Allegro Vivace In D Major, from RV 404 (3rd Movement)
  • 1
    Largo In D Major RV 226
  • 1
    Concerto In B Minor, RV 424 Allegro Non Molto
  • 1
    Concerto In B Minor, RV 424 Largo
  • 1
    Concerto In B Minor, RV 424 Allegro
  • 1
    Largo In C Major, RV 383 (orig. B Flat Major)
  • 1
    Concerto In G Major RV 413 Allegro
  • 1
    Concerto In G Major RV 413 Largo
  • 1
    Concerto In G Major RV 413 Allegro
  • 1
    Largo In G Major RV 341 (orig, a Major)
  • 1
    Concerto In a Minor RV422 Allegro Non Troppo
  • 1
    Concerto In a Minor RV422 Largo
  • 1
    Concerto In a Minor RV422 Allegro
  • 1
    Alla Breve In G Major RV 415 (3rd Movement)

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