December 2005

Vivaldi - Concerti con molti strumenti, Vol. 2
Europa Galante, Fabio Biondi, violin & conductor
Virgin 45723
Format: CD
Released: 2005

by Richard Freed

Musical Performance ****1/2
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

The Concerto in D major, RV 562a, that begins this program is the only concerto in which Vivaldi used drums. As originally composed in 1716, as a companion piece to the Concerto in F, RV 569, also included here, it was scored for violin, two oboes, two horns and strings. Some 22 years later, for a celebratory performance in Amsterdam, Vivaldi replaced his original slow movement and added timpani in the two outer ones. The effect must have been a stunning surprise then, and it is still remarkably effective. Improbable as it may seem, this may be only the fourth recording of RV 562a. It scores over all of its predecessors by virtue of the spirited performance, a sonic frame that does it full justice, and the supplemental inclusion of the original slow movement following the finale.

In addition to the two concertos with horns, this generously filled, handsomely recorded CD includes similarly striking accounts of RV 566 in D minor for pairs of violins, flutes and oboes plus solo bassoon; RV 540, also in D minor, for viola d’amore and lute; RV 561 in C major for violin and two cellos; the Cello Concerto in G major, RV 413; and a Concerto in B-flat for four violins, RV 553 (not the one Bach transcribed for four harpsichords). Fabio Biondi provides stimulating and imaginative leadership throughout the program, and all his associates seem to share his delight in bringing these attractive works so vibrantly to life. They are well served by a recording that captures every nuance in the most natural balance.