Seasons

Oliver Davis, Antonio Vivaldi
Kerenza Peacock violin, Grave Davidson soprano, Trafalgar Sinfonia, Ivor Settlefield
62:16
Signum Records SIGCD437

This is an interesting disc, combining Vivaldi’s most famous violin concertos with a new orchestral song cycle entitled “Anno” by Oliver Davis (b. 1972) setting the the Italian sonnets that were printed in the Op. 8 partbooks in which the “Four Seasons” were published. Grace Davidson’s pure voice combines well with the Trafalgar Sinfonia’s largely vibrato-less string sound, and the rhythmic vitality and neo-Baroque style of Davis’s writing lend the cycle an easy instant accessibility.

BBC Radio 3’s CD Review programme the other day had several versions of the Vivaldi works (including solo organist and gypsy violinist!) and I would say the present recording lies halfway along the spectrum from HIP to wacky (although, to be honest, that doesn’t make allowance for several “wacky HIP” crossovers, which I would rather did not exist…) – Kerenza Peacock is an accomplished violinist, and she is mostly very well accompanied; I’m afraid I just did not hear anything new in these performances. Of course, the whole premise of the disc is to contextualize the Davis composition; actually, I think I would have preferred to hear more of his music.

Brian Clark