Spring is Coming, Just the Right Time For a Beautiful Vivaldi Album

Wow, a month without a post. Well, initially the flu got me, and then I had really busy times at work. I promise, I try to increase my posting frequency again.

Antonio Vivaldi

I’ve said it before, I’m not a big fan of Vivaldi in general. A lot of his music is a bit repetitive to my ears (Stravinsky famously said ” Vivaldi had written the same concerto 400 times”), and overall, I only listen to the four seasons about once per year, and not much beyond this. I try his operas every once in a while, but usually don’t finish the album.

But then again, Vivaldi, especially his concertos, are often just the music one needs for a sunny spring day, with their energy and vibrancy.

So therefore, the other day I decided to get myself a new Vivaldi album to celebrate the arrival of spring.

I’ve previously written about how much I like Giuliano Carmignola’s recording of the Four Seasons, so when I looked for a promising Vivaldi album and I saw this 2016 album, I was intrigued:

Vivaldi: Concerto per Due Violini – Giuliano Carmignola – Amandine Beyer – Gli Incogniti (Harmonia Mundi 2016)

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So, here we have said Carmignola, and on top of that Amandine Beyer, another very well-known baroque violin player. Very promising. I wasn’t always a fan of Beyer, sometimes her sound strikes me as a bit to “thin”, but I’ve been positively surprised by her Pachelbel album.

So how do these two outstanding soloist play together? Well, to make it quick: delightfully! This album is just a pleasure to listen to for all four concertos.

I’m really not the only one recognizing this as an excellent album, it actually received an Editors Choice from Gramophone, a Diapason d’Or, as well several other critics awards.

What about the music? Well, they are Vivaldi violin concertos, so I’m still willing to say, if you’ve heard one, you have a pretty good idea what to expect. Nevertheless, here are some nice gems, like the very nuanced interactions of the two soloists in the Allegro of RV529, so I promise you won’t get bored.

Especially on a sunny spring day!

My rating: 4 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz) and here (HDtracks)

Pachelbel: Beyond the Canon with Amandine Beyer

Johann Pachelbel

Do you know Pachelbel? Sure you do. Like probably most of the population of the Western world, from his famous Canon and Gigue in D, as the Canon is one of the most popular pieces played at weddings (and by street musicians).

Now do you know anything else from Pachelbel? Well, I must admit, I really didn’t. In my entire classical music library, I have the sad number of 15 tracks from this composer, pretty much entirely on some Baroque compilations.

So I was curious when Amandine Beyer with her ensemble Gli Incognito recently released an entire Pachelbel album.

Pachelbel: Un Orage d’Avril (Harmonia Mundi 2016)

Pachelbel: Un orage d'avril - Amandine Beyer - Gli Incogniti - Hans-Jörg Bammel Harmonia Mundi 2016

Well, I was positively surprised. This is mainly instrumental baroque musique, with the occasional song (beautifully performed by tenor Hans-Jörg Mammel) thrown in.

Let’s admit it, baroque music  can be boring. Sometimes it is just a bit too repetitive, to formalized, too much of the same (e.g. quite a bit of Vivaldi’s massive oeuvre IMHO). So it usually takes a genius like Bach to break out of the conventions of baroque music to really make it interesting (and even he doesn’t always succeed).

And obviously, Pachelbel is no Bach, probably not even a Vivaldi. That said, I still think there is enough to discover on this album that I highly recommend you to check it out.

A brief comment on Amandine Beyer: I sometimes find the sound of her violin a bit too “rough” for my taste (e.g. on her celebrated recording of the Four Seasons) This is nicely enough not the case here, the album is quite well recorded.

Give it a try!

My rating: 4 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz) and here (Prestoclassical)