Vivaldi violin concertos you need to know

Vivaldi: Concerti per Le Solennità
Giuliano Carmignola, violin and conductor
Sonatori  de la Gioiosa Marca
(Divox)

It’s one of the great paradoxes that the recording industry is probably most responsible for boosting Antonio Vivaldi’s reputation while, at the same time, cutting it down. How? Pioneering record labels like Hyperion (the complete sacred music) and Naïve (the Vivaldi collection) have done tremendous service by resurrecting Vivaldi rarities. But the road to Hell is frequently paved with good intentions. Record labels have the habit of grouping all of the L’estro armonico or Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione concertos (12 in each collection) in neatly packaged 2-CD sets that result in some listeners smugly nodding in agreement with Igor Stravinsky’s bitchy comment that Vivaldi wrote the same concerto 400 times. Vivaldi’s concertos were published together but not intended to be performed in one serving. You wouldn’t eat an entire box of bonbons in one sitting would you? Why listen to 12 concertos in a row?

Stravinsky in Venice, he should have been dunked in a canal

This stunning recording by violinist conductor Giuliano Carmignola and Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca does tremendous service to Vivaldi by presenting six of his lesser-known violin concertos for solemn occasions. The solemn occasions were the various religious festivals celebrated between 1712 to 1735 in various churches in and around the Veneto. The concertos are filled with some of Vivaldi’s most innovative writing. There are two concertos for the Feast of the Assumption where Vivaldi splits the ensemble into two choirs, the only time the composer attempted this. There’s martial pomp in the “Grosso Mogul” concerto and a lovely pastoral tone in the concerto “per il Santo Natale.”

Carmignola, just the man to shut Stravinsky up

The performances of Carmignola are revelatory. More than Fabio Biondi or Andrew Manze or any baroque fiddler on the scene, Carmignola knows how to fire things up—check out the whispery fine bow work in the opening Allegro of the concerto “S. Antonio in Padua”—but also play sweetly—like in the poignant Grave of the D major Assumption concerto. Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca provide full-blooded but always sensitive accompaniment and the sound quality provided by the consistently excellent Divox engineers is audiophile quality.

3 Responses to “Vivaldi violin concertos you need to know”

  1. Karen Says:

    Immensely enjoyed reading your informative and entertaining review. I have quite a few Carmignola CDs but haven’t listened to them in a long time. Your review has renewed my interest in his works, and I really look forward to hearing Carmignola’s new one with Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca.

    • Craig Zeichner Says:

      Thanks Karen, glad you enjoyed it. Looks like Divox has a number of Carmignola recordings to come, so that’s good news. There’s a young Italian violinist name Riccardo Minasi who you are going to be hearing a lot about. He released a recording of Biber’s Rosary Sonatas that are thrilling. Keep an ear out for him.

  2. Giuliano Carmingola is the best Baroque violinist there is. He is trully Vivaldi reincarnated!

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