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Vivaldi's concertos dedicated to Johann Georg Pisendel -
reviewed by ROBERT HUGILL

'... an attractive and lively group.'

Antonio Vivaldi - Concertos dedicated to Johann Georg Pisendel. Ensemble Guidantus. © 2002 Real Sound srl

Johann Georg Pisendel was a German violin virtuoso based at the Dresden court of the Elector of Saxony. Whilst working for the Elector, Pisendel travelled to Venice and during his stay of around a year became a friend and pupil of Vivaldi. Vivaldi wrote eleven works for his friend, five sonatas and six violin concertos. When Pisendel travelled back to Dresden he took with him over forty manuscripts of Vivaldi's pieces, thus engendering an enthusiasm for Vivaldi in the Saxon capital. These concerti are also an important way-station for the development of the violin concerto form and its dissemination.

It is the six concertos which were written for Pisendel that are presented, in dazzling fashion, on this disc by the young Italian group Ensemble Guidantus. The group play one instrument to a part with Marco Pedrona playing the solo violin part. Written for a virtuoso, this violin part requires considerable virtuosity of the soloist and Pedrona delivers this brilliantly, ably supported by his fellow musicians.

All the concertos are three movement works, two fast movements surrounding a slow one. The slow movements act as calming counterbalances to the dizzying pyrotechnics of the fast movements. The group favours fast speeds and the use of single instruments means that the solo passages with continuo accompaniment integrate well into the overall texture, though the element of contrast is lost. The distinction between the solo violin and the ripieno violins is also reduced as there is much less tonal distinction between them. This has the interesting effect of highlighting the concerto grosso aspects of the works, giving us an illuminating idea of the origins of the form.

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Copyright © 11 January 2004 Robert Hugill, London UK


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