Bach | Vivaldi: for mandolin

Dorina Frati, Orchestra a Plettra Mauro e Claudio Terroni
74:21
Dynamic CDS7787

This recording barely qualifies for inclusion in these pages, but given that baroque composers did quite frequently adapt their music to new circumstances, it would be churlish not to include it on the basis that Bach and Vivaldi would (at the least) have been surprised to hear such performances as these. In truth, the three concertos by Bach (the A minor for violin, D minor for two violins and Brandenburg 3!) and six by Vivaldi (one of them even originally written for two mandolins!) are pleasant enough; I thought I would tire of the repeated twanging of strings (especially in slow movements), but it is amazing just how quickly the human ear adjusts its expectations and – perhaps more with Bach than Vivaldi? – the music is all one hears. Technical difficulties mean that some movements are slower than one is used to, but overall I must say that I enjoyed listening to this while driving home from Glasgow Airport the other day. I don’t know that I would actually ever sit down and listen to it from start to finish in one sitting again, but I might dip into it occasionally.

Brian Clark