Antonio Vivaldi : Concerti per violino ‘La boemia’

Fabio Biondi, Europa Galante
Naïve OP30572

Well, the hugely ambitious Naïve project to record the around 450 works by Vivaldi in the National University Library of Turin has reached volume 57 and the composer’s Bohemian concertos. The delight of any attempt at a complete recording of a composer’s oeuvre is the discovery of work that has fallen into obscurity, and these fine concerti surely come into that category. Composed during the composer’s year-long sojourn in Prague, it is interesting to listen in these works for any influence of a native Bohemian style, and it has to be said that there is a freedom of melodic line and a couple of harmonic progressions which suggest that the composer was open to local influences. The other great joy of this Naïve series is the superlative standard of the performances, and Fabio Bondi and his excellent Europa Galante offer sparkling accounts of these concerti. They subscribe to the current school of thought which presents Baroque string music with a degree of percussive attack which not everybody approves of, but which I enjoy when it is not overdone. Meanwhile, Bondi’s virtuosity and wonderful singing tone make him the perfect soloist in this repertoire. I think it is only fair that Europa Galante read a fair amount of Bohemian influence into these scores, and without overdoing it, I think they cleverly bring out the central European flavour of these unusual works. I have to confess to having slightly lost track of this epic endeavour, and it is good to find, on dipping back in, that all is progressing well with the project and that standards are as high as ever.

D. James Ross

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