Vivaldi recorder concertos,
cpo cpo 777 304-2
Forget the Carnival of Venice, when the local inhabitants, masked and mysterious, went their ways bent on entertainment bold, free, and sometimes bad. If I had been a Venetian in the days of Vivaldi, nothing would have dragged me away, except maybe the police for loitering with intent, from the open windows of the Ospedale della Pietà, whence the orphan girls apparently produced sounds unknown to any orphan before or since. The virtuosity Vivaldi constantly demanded of his pupils would have made away with first prize at any international competition of the time, had such existed.
When I recall my own peaceful whifflings on the recorder, I can only marvel at Michael Schneider's staggering skill. He divides the seven works on the disc into the extremely demanding and the less so. He places five works in the first category, two in the second, playing altogether on three different instruments, a sopranino, soprano, and alto. To put myself and most recorder players in their place, I have concentrated on the more exacting works.
The G major concerto RV 443 was written by Vivaldi in C, but as Schneider explains in his admirable notes, the manuscript contains an instruction by Vivaldi to the copyist that the work should be transposed down a fourth. So Schneider plays it on a soprano recorder. The finale has enchanting brilliance and verve.
Listen -- Vivaldi: Allegro molto (RV 443)
(track 3, 0:35-1:19) © 2008 cpo
Its successor on the CD, for alto recorder in C minor, is very different, with a slow movement both dramatic and serious, and the strings imposing a stark challenge to the soloist at the outset.
Listen -- Vivaldi: Largo (RV 441)
(track 5, 0:00-0:41) © 2008 cpo
RV 445 in A minor might likewise have been transposed down according to an equivalent note; but Schneider has decided to leave it in the key of the manuscript. This means that his sopranino sounds at times almost supersonic.
Listen -- Vivaldi: Allegro 1 (RV 445)
(track 7, 0:27-1:38) © 2008 cpo
Of almost more interest is the sonata for alto recorder and bassoon in A minor, where both instruments are made to cavort with equal agility, and Christian Beuse's bassoon magnificently stays the course.
Listen -- Vivaldi: Allegro molto (RV 86)
(track 22, 1:22-2:01) © 2008 cpo
If only I was still cellist enough to join these Frankfurt players; it is joyous music-making of the highest standard.
Copyright © 10 January 2009
Robert Anderson, Cairo, Egypt
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