Archive for Antonio Vivaldi


Posted in Playlist with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2010 by Craig Zeichner

When I’m  not digging my way through a dozen plus Monteverdi Vespers recordings for an upcoming magazine story, I’ve been enjoying some other treasures.

Claude-Bénigne Balbastre
Harpsichord Music
Elizabeth Farr, harpsichord

Giovanni Paolo Colonna
Salmi da Vespro per il giorno di S. Petronio
Cappell Musicale ei S. Petronio
Sergio Vartolo, director

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Psaumes français & Canciones Sacrae
Cappella Amsterdam
Daniel Reuss, director
(Harmonia Mundi)

Antonio Vivaldi
Vivica Genaux, mezzo-soprano
Europe Galante
Fabio Biondi, director
(Virgin Classics)

Robert White
Hymns, Psalms & Lamentations
Gabriel Crouch, director
(Signum Classics)

I’m really excited about the White recording which features a group of men from the superb choir Tenebrae. White is a composer who deserves wider recognition and this CD should do much to put him in everybody’s ears.

And if you want to read one of the most entertaining poems ever written, check out the translation by Anthony Esolen of Torquato Tasso’s Gerusaleme liberata. Christian armies battling for the Holy City in some of the most splendid poetry you will ever encounter. If you care anything for the Italian madrigal tradition, you need to read Tasso.

Torquato Tasso
Jerusalem Delivered
translated by Anthony Esolen
(John Hopkins University Library)

Vivaldi violin concertos you need to know

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2009 by Craig Zeichner

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

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.