Vivaldi: The Concertos for Recorder

Stefan Temmingh recorders, Capricornus Consort Basel
68:40
Accent ACC 24332

When I first listened to this disc, I thought the record company had packaged the wrong ones into the sleeves; “no way this can be Vivaldi!” I thought… and I was correct. Had I read the cover correctly, though, I would have seen that, in addition to the “five and a half” authentic recorder concertos from the quill of the Red Priest, Temmingh and Capricornus Consort Basel give us preludes by his great admirer, J. S. Bach. Having spent a few weeks trying to get my head around the logic of such an arrangement, I have just read Temmingh’s booklet notes and find myself utterly convinced by his argument that, in order to admire properly the exuberance of the concerti, one’s brain first needs “cleansing” – the Bach (albeit instrumental arrangements) preludes act as the sorbet between courses. I was not persuaded by two of them (a pairing of psaltery and lute for one, harpsichord and organ for the other), and feel that another would have been better if the chorale melody had been taken by a wind instrument (although I expect it would have been less cleansing if Temmingh had played it on a large recorder…) The Vivaldi itself is fabulous, impressive without being showy, nicely paced and ornamented. Again, it was with the scoring I had problems; suggesting that the use of bass clef in violin parts when they play bassetto justifies using a continuo instrument for those parts (let alone that being a harp!) strikes me as silly – did Vivaldi’s harpist have a part showing the bassline and the bassetto? Has such a thing ever been seen? Still, I don’t want to end what is a very positive review of a wonderful recording on a negative aspect, which is more about my taste than the performances themselves which are first rate.

Brian Clark