Concertos played by
Real Sound RS 051-0126
Ensemble Guidantus is a young Italian group specialising in the music of their nation's most famous baroque composer. Their first release (1996) was a quirky Four Seasons, followed by a set of concertos which Vivaldi dedicated to Pisendel. This disc bring us six more of Vivaldi's 250-odd concertos for violin, strings and continuo. They are selected from those less often recorded but are by no means second-rate
[listen -- track 8, 0:00-1:04].
Marco Pedrona is soloist and directs a one-player-per-part orchestra of string quartet and harpsichord. First impressions are of a fresh, vigorous approach to the music. Tempi are generally well chosen and the playing is clean, but shortcomings gradually emerge.
The minimal size of the group promotes clarity of texture, though at the expense of warmth and solo/tutti contrast. That contrast could have been increased by microphone placement but the opportunity was missed, the soloist still more prominent than he need be and the harpsichord often less audible than it should be. Their tone is very bright and so is the acoustic, resulting in a recorded sound that is quite hard at times albeit not always as clear as one might wish.
Pedrona is a strong, assured player with a good sense of direction but seems to focus on the destination more than the journey. There can be a lack of interest in the details of the phrasing: sequences, in particular, tend to become exact repetitions rather than organic developments of a theme. These faults tend to be less apparent in the slow movements, which are often very well brought off
[listen -- track 2, 3:03-4:09].
The market for Vivaldi concertos is big but crowded. Playing at modern pitch on what sound like modern instruments, Ensemble Guidantus won't easily win the hearts of early music purists but they may still find a niche by carefully choosing their repertoire. Listeners looking for these particular concertos can be assured that Guidantus' performances are capable and the music is excellent.