Antonio Vivaldi (again)
In my post last week about Vivaldi’s violin concertos where I mentioned that I’m not such a particular fan of the “Red Priest”, I got a lot of reader reactions.
Many of them where trying to convince me that there’s more to Vivaldi, and that he certainly hasn’t written the same concerto 400 times as Stravinsky famously joked.
Well to set the record straight: I do like Vivaldi, kind of. Not all of it, and only in certain doses. And just to prove that I do, I’ll be doing a little mini-series about Vivaldi now.
The Four Seasons (again)
And yes, please don’t kill me if I start with the most overplayed piece of classical music ever (well, in close competition with the opening of Beethoven’s 5th symphony probably).
I’ve written about my favorite version of the four seasons already, it is the version with Giuliano Carmignola. This, to this day, is outstanding. So why do I really need to write about yet another recording (Discogs shows nearly 2,500 entries of this work already…)?
Well, because Rachel Podger just recorded it!
I’ve written about Rachel Podger several times already, e.g. her recent album Grandissima Gravita, her magnificent Mozart sonatas, and her Biber Rosary Sonatas, which won a 2016 Gramophone Award in her category. So be warned, like Gramophone I really tend to like her recordings and hardly ever find fault with them.
Vivaldi: Le Quattro Stagioni – Rachel Podger – Brecon Baroque (Channel Classics 2018)
So, sorry to repeat myself, but this is yet another outstanding recording by Mrs. Podger.
Her ensemble, Brecon Baroque, isn’t particularly large. This conveys a nice sense of intimacy. The entire recording is extremely nuanced, subtle, but always joyful.
The highlight of the album is the 3 movements of Winter. The Allegro non-molto is even a bit scary, you can feel the shivers of the cold in the opening chords (and I’m writing this on a sunny spring weekend).
And when you get to the second movement of the Winter, the Largo (which has always been a favorite of mine), it is the most “swinging” largo I’ve ever heard, you can really feel yourself taking a nice walk in the sun in a white winter landscape.
So, I’m sure you already have a Four Seasons recording in your collection. If you don’t, this is a must have. if you do, you should still strongly consider this, it is one of the best versions ever recorded, in a very particular and individual style. And as a plus, Channel Classics is known for their excellent recording technique, so this is an audiophile gem as well.
And to top it of, you get two other violin concertos by Vivaldi thrown in (and yes, they don’t all sound the same!).
My rating: 5 stars
I ended up as usual buying it here (Qobuz, PCM 24/192 only), as with my Sublime subscription it is quite significantly discounted (and no, I’m still not sponsored by Qobuz).
UPDATE April 23, 2018: Gramophone agrees, giving it an Editor’s Choice in it’s May 2018 issue, with this statement: “If ever a disc were self-recommending, this is it: one of today’s most consistently brilliant Baroque violinists, records one of the era’s most famed and engaging works. Enjoy!”. Please note that Gramophone, very much like me, is a bit positively biased on Podger.