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Fruitful music, with Basil Ramsey

CPO    999 511-2

Record Box


Vivaldi Trio Sonatas. (P) 1999 EMI Records Ltd.

We can safely say that Vivaldi's music is better known in 2000 than it was in 1900. The Four Seasons alone has ensured that. As for the multitude of other works, perhaps a piece here or there. This two-CD set embraces Vivaldi's opus 1, a group of twelve trio sonatas, plus five other sonatas to make up content for two records, which brings the total duration to 143 minutes.

Therefore, a concentration of Vivaldi concentrates the mind. Initially, a run through helps detect the melodic cells that generally get coupled - or tripled - for this or that turn of phrase. That sort of musical test brings into focus the astonishing variety possible, however stringently it's applied [listen - CD 1 track 9, 0:00-0:33].

So where is the essence of a particular sonata? If we are listening to an 'also ran' composer there is precious little he can find that has not already been swept into a superior working of similar material elsewhere. The stylish multi-talented composers had the advantage of applying merest touches of change sufficient to raise their musicmaking above the norm [listen - CD 1 track 37, 0:00-0:50].

Vivaldi was a plentiful scorer in this game despite lapses. This set of sonatas faces differing levels of invention whereby good subject material can be partially wasted on minimal treatment, and the reverse. I think such contrariness is all too human. Yes, composers can also act miraculously when the essentials appear to drop into place as though on automatic drive.

In Sonnerie such music as this has the attention of a superb group with experience as a specialist ensemble in early music performance, and brilliance as individual performers moulded to the unanimity of a single unit.



Copyright © 30 August 2000 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK







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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews