Giovanni Antonini, Il Giardino Armonico
Alpha Classics Alpha 384
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These are tempestuous and stunningly virtuosic performances of Vivaldi’s RVs 433, 441, 442, 443, 444 and 445 by one of the finest Baroque ensembles of the moment and one of the most impressive recorder virtuosi. Giovanni Antonini employs a sopranino recorder for the ‘flautino’ concertos and a treble recorder for the ‘flauto’ ones, both of which he plays with eye-watering skill and musicality, ably supported by Il Giardino Armonico, which he also directs. The playing is so deft and expressive from soloist and ensemble that the listener’s attention is seized at the very opening of the CD and never allowed to wander. The famous concerto ‘La Tempesta di Mare’ has never sounded more exciting, but neither have any of the others! Antonini’s photo on the cover is consciously or unconsciously reminiscent of the younger Franz Brüggen, and none is more entitled to associate himself with this earlier recorder virtuoso. Almost as an afterthought, Antonini takes to the chalumeau for a contrasting account of the rather lugubrious ‘Cum dederit’ from the ‘Nisi Dominus’ RV 608, and annoyingly he’s a pretty good chalumist too! This is an impressive CD in every respect and a useful antidote either to the type of lackadaisical approach you hear sometimes to Vivaldi, or worse still the recent vogue in ‘mucking about’ with his music. These are thoroughly honest accounts and yet breathtakingly effective.
D. James Ross