Vivaldi: Concerti per fagotto IV

Sergio Azzolini, L’Onda Armonica
68:40
naïve OP 30551
Tesori del Piemonte  vol. 59
RV469, 473, 491, 492, 498 & 500

These six bassoon concertos once again contradict the oft-paraphrased oversimplification that the composer wrote “one concerto 600 times”. Framed by works in C major, there are two more in A minor (including my favourite of Vivaldi’s 39 solo concertos for the instrument, RV498) and one each in F and G major. In live performance, I have previously written in these pages, Sergio Azzolini can be rather distracting in his means of communicating with his audience, but through the medium of digital music I am spared that visuals and can luxuriate in the warmth of his tone, especially in the lyrical central movements.

In the faster outer ones, yes, Vivaldi relies on the building blocks of ritornello form, but he had the great advantage over most of his contemporaries of writing really ear-catching melodies in the first place, and when it comes to writing virtuosically for the soloist, he has few – if any – rivals. L’Onda Armonica (44221 strings with plucker – with an array of different instruments at his disposal – and keyboardist) are more than “accompaniment”; just listen to the opening of RV498 (Track 7 – Azzolini imagines it representing a snow-covered Venetian winter!) as a sample of their layered dynamics and careful phrasing. This is a fabulous CD and I shall enjoy returning to it often.

Brian Clark