A New Excellent Four Seasons Recording by Rachel Podger

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)

Vivaldi Le Quattro Stagioni (Four Seasons) Rachel Podger Brecon Baroque Channel Classics DSD 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

 

You can find it here (Channelclassics), and here (NativeDSD), in both cases you get it in native DSD resolution up to multichannel.

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.

Author: Musicophile

I'm not a professional musician, I don't work in the music industry, I'm just what the name says, somebody who loves music. I've been in love with music for all of my life, took piano lessons for nearly 10 years, and played in several amateur Jazz groups. I go to concerts, both classical and Jazz, quite regularly. And I collect music previously on vinyl and CDs, now on my computer, and am slightly OCD on my music collection. You can reach me at Musicophile1(AT)gmail.com

16 thoughts on “A New Excellent Four Seasons Recording by Rachel Podger”

  1. Hi, Musicophile! I also did piano age 9-18. I actually majored in music at Loyola University New Orleans.

    Thanks! I might actually buy it, someday. I like popular classical hits.

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    1. Hi Christina, thanks for your nice feedback. I really recommend you buy this, everybody should own at least one recording of the four seasons. FYI, you may not find this particular recording on some streaming sites as the label is a bit restrictive about streaming, but it is worth having.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right! I’ve been wanting to listen to it again. Nice to know a good recommendation. When I have money for it. I also have been meaning to buy a new album by Freiburger Barockorchester, Concerti a due cori by Handel. I like the violinist Petra Müllejans. I highly recommend her, especially as a person, and she is very cute and lovable and loving etc. In fact, I follow the orchestra online every day. They have a Twitter and Facebook, where they post encouraging things or Retweet. They post pictures from their performances, too.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m going to watch the Freiburgers perform in NYC the day before my birthday. That’s amazing you’re so into classical music. You must really have it going. I switched from piano to violin because I wanted to be part of the orchestra more. I guess you saw how boring piano could be if you’d rather spend your time doing something else like an orchestral instrument. I chose violin, in the end. I have tried to find good videos of classical music on YouTube that weren’t loaded illegally. I found some cute things, particularly 2 different events with 2 different youth orchestras from Spain performing in England, one at BBC Proms? I think. I liked listening to the CDs my parents got me when I started piano. They were mostly Beethoven symphonies and some piano, I think. It was something I was wary of and didn’t get to listen to as much as I was curious to. Also, I wanted to play the violin since I was age 6 years old. I did it in college as a group class and private lessons at age 29 years old til present. I’m hoping to listen to classical music like people I’ve met who follow the Freiburgers on Twitter and you, too. I just cleaned my room and am taking care of some things, mostly to do with classical music, like taking Music Appreciation for fun in the summer. I was a music major and did well in a music history class. This will be a good accelerated learning experience for me! If I can, I might either take a Music Education course too or see if I can go to the ensemble academy in Freiburg with some of the Freiburger Barockorchester teaching. I don’t think Petra Mullejans will be there, but I like Melise Mellinger, who’s in the other orchestra helping out. I can afford it except not the $800-$900 plane ride. If Petra Mullejans were doing it, I might give up everything I needed to go, which would mean Freiburger’s performance in NYC and the exciting summer music class/es. I’ve been looking forward to the concert. I actually could afford it if I gave everything up. I’m a little confused. You’d like it. They said you can even just come to watch, for a lesser price. So, I see you’re from outside-of-the-US. So is my mom. English is not her first language, neither. A lot of people could tell. There’s something about you I felt I noticed in my subconscious that you didn’t speak English as your first and primary language. I want to get a bachelor’s degree in German at Oregon State University online. Leave the US, go to Germany. 🙂 I’m a little confused racially because Americans usually aren’t fit to live in Europe. Also, I’m part Polynesian and Asian with mostly Chinese. I also enjoy that I think I have Indonesian, as I’m actually considered half Chinese-Indonesian. It’s funny too that people with black dads look all black. My dad is all Caucasian, probably, or mostly. I don’t know if I have so much of the Southern European according to some sources, so I’m not sure what to make of the idea I know about having that. People always thought I wanted to be European more than everyone else, growing up, so I just kinda wanted to go to Germany. Also, my music was liked. So, I thought it would be exciting to play in Europe and change my style even more there. I actually also am fond of European things, you know old-fashioned things too tho. It’s strange how mixed the melting pot is and how people don’t talk to me much here. I do care about the US and the cool people I see and the struggling people I see. Well, hope with extra money I listen to more classical music and, oh, look up legal things on YouTube. You see, I’m big about posting about social things online, but I do that alone mostly, tho before I used to post on public message board and not blog quite yet. I used to be occupied majoring in music and was recommended to go on a sabbatical and quit Music Education cuz I seemed to shy and change my major instrument to organ from piano cuz that’s really why they remember accepting me, as well as stopping singing lessons for credit. They encouraged me in the ballet minor, tho, I think because it seemed like something everyone should be “allowed” to do and they also thought singing was easy for anyone to do and maybe even still fun that way. Oh well. Well, looks like you have a good blog and I hope things are well for you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good look with your plans coming to Germany. Freiburg is a lovely place in the South West. And believe me people can live wherever they want if they have an open mind and are able to adapt!

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  3. My all time favorite is the humble Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble on BIS ( http://www.eclassical.com/composers/vivaldi-antonio/vivaldi-the-four-seasons.html ).

    I bought it a long, long time ago, and for my taste it’s never been bettered.

    I do like the Carmignola. The Podger – well, I wanted to like it more than I did. There is nothing at all wrong with it, it’s perfectly pleasant overall and very nice in spots (yes, I liked the Largo movement of Winter also), but to my ears Carmignola and especially Drottningholm beat it for the drama and excitement I think a really good Four Seasons should have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jud, thanks for your feedback. With such an overplayed work rhe reception has to be a very personal affair.
      And I’m very curious to check out Drottningholm, didn’t have it on my radar yet.

      Like

  4. I don’t even care how overplayed it is, “The Four Seasons” is a favorite choice of mine. I am not a discriminating enough classical listener to know if this is better than other ones I’ve heard. But I thoroughly enjoyed this.

    Liked by 1 person

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