Adrian Chandler director/violin, Peter Whelan bassoon, La Serenissima
If you are going to record ‘The Four Seasons’, you have to do something that makes your version stick out from the crowd; Adrian Chandler, who has immersed himself for years now in Vivaldi’s music, has opted to go down the ‘let’s have lots of fun and really bring out the character of these pieces’ route, so the bird song is even more chirpy than you might be used to, the distant thunder takes on a more ominous nature, extremes of dynamic, ornamentation abounds, and personally I must admit that listening to it once was exciting but I think I would find repeated listening less so. While taking Boris Begelman’s point about the performer transforming baroque music on the page into baroque music for the ear, and impressive as Chandler and La Serenissima are (and goodness is some of the ensemble playing breathtaking!), I would not want this to be my only recording of the work. There is much more to the disc, though, as the wonderful Peter Whelan gives us two contrasting bassoon concertos (the characterful ‘La notte’ – related to but not simply a re-working of the flute concerto of that name – and a piece whose designation ‘per Maestro di Morzin’ indicates that it was written for the devotee of ‘The Four Seasons’ set, and whose orchestra was at one time headed by Whelan’s friend, Fasch) and world premiere recordings of two concertos for violin ‘in tromba marina’ with Chandler playing on three metal strings that give the instrument a different brightness than one gets on an instrument with an E string, though with a hint of hurdy-gurdy to the tone. As with the rest of the disc, here there is a clear sense of the musicians having fun with their material – so as we head into Autumn (and the wettest September on record, as the weather people are predicting), buy yourself this as a reminder of summer fun times!