Vivaldi: Concerti per fagotto V

Vivaldi Edition vol. 66
Sergio Azzolini, L’onda armonica
naïve OP 30573
RV 467, 476, 479, 481, 486, 489, 497

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If you ever get a chance to see Azzolini perform, move heaven and earth to ensure that you do. I’m not a great fan of “show men” but there is something about his style of story-telling that draws me into his world and even though I’m writing a review of a recording I can “see” him acting his way through these seven concertos, which – controversially, I would argue, for a “complete edition” – he has orchestrated according to his findings in the Dresden library, which is second only to the University in Turin for Vivaldi manuscripts. While I appreciate and understand his argument that scores only tell us half the story, while sets of parts and anecdotal references reveal 18th-century assumptions that there was no need to annotate everything in scores (notably the presence of doubling woodwinds), it would, I think, have been more interesting still to hear the “straight” versions alongside the expanded ones. As there is no reference to this infelicity on the cover of the box, the unsuspecting public would rightfully assume they were listening to the music as Vivaldi intended it. And, while it might argued that these versions are exactly what he expected to hear, the fact that Azzolini goes one step further and bases cadenzas on actual Vivaldi examples from violin concertos pushes the probably even further down the road. Four of the concertos are in C major, the others being in A minor, D minor and F. Beautifully played and recorded, this is an excellent CD, but its take on Vivaldi will have purists jumping up and down – and I’m still in two minds about joining them!

Brian Clark

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