Vivaldi: Teatro alla moda

Gli Incogniti, Amandine Beyer
harmonia mundi HMC 902221
Violin concerti RV228, 282, 313, 314a, 316, 322, 323, 372a, 391
Sinfonia to L’Olimpiade & Ballo Primo  from Arsilda Regina di Ponto

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ans of Vivaldi will welcome this disc of six three-movement concertos, with some incomplete single movement concertos or reconstructed movements of others, plus two operatic excerpts. This small ensemble of just four violins with one player on each of the lower parts shows Vivaldi’s virtuosity at his best, yet it is not afraid of some real sustained pianissimo playing – a quality sometimes sadly lacking in some period ensembles today.

(The video is in French)

I particularly enjoyed the different sonority of the scordatura concerto RV 391 in B minor, with the solo violin tuned to B-D-A-D, for it is often than Vivaldi shows his best compositional skills in minor mode works – and indeed four of the full concertos on this disc are in minor keys. Nevertheless the D major RV 228, with its cadenza in the third movement (here given the full ‘Paganini’ treatment, yet still stylistically convincing) is a fascinating work. The ensemble’s title, and indeed the theme running through the disc, is taken from Benedetto Marcello’s little publication satirising some of the features of the Italian opera of the day.

Ian Graham-Jones

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5 3*4.5

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