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Chamber Music - Released July 15, 2013 | naïve classique

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 10 de Répertoire - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Hi-Res Audio
No Baroque work is more familiar than Vivaldi's set of four programmatic violin concertos known as the Four Seasons, yet firebrand Italian violinist Fabio Biondi and his Europa Galante will make you feel as though you're hearing them for the first time in this recording, originally released on the Opus 111 label. Biondi's tempi are fast indeed in the outer movements, and he pushes some of Vivaldi's illustrative episodes into a realm of crescendi and descrescendi that's mighty unusual. And he ornaments the music freely. But his expressive devices are never Romantic -- they come off as full-blooded, passionate responses to the music, and they never seem to violate the spirit. Sample the first-movement thunderstorm of the "Summer" concerto for an idea of what you're getting into here -- and you may find yourself ordering everything Biondi has ever issued. The complaints here are minor -- the sound, from 1991, is rather harsh; the instrumentalists are recorded so close up that there is a good deal of extraneous noise. Nevertheless, this is an excellent first choice for the Four Seasons -- or a worthwhile acquisition for someone who already has many versions.
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Classical - Released May 5, 2017 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Sacred Oratorios - Released March 31, 2015 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Violin Concertos - Released February 24, 2015 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released September 11, 2012 | Stradivarius

Distinctions 10 de Classica-Répertoire
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Classical - Released May 23, 2011 | Opus 111 naïve

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Sacred Oratorios - Released March 1, 2011 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet
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Concertos - Released September 3, 2007 | naïve classique

No Baroque work is more familiar than Vivaldi's set of four programmatic violin concertos known as the Four Seasons, yet firebrand Italian violinist Fabio Biondi and his Europa Galante will make you feel as though you're hearing them for the first time in this recording, originally released on the Opus 111 label. Biondi's tempi are fast indeed in the outer movements, and he pushes some of Vivaldi's illustrative episodes into a realm of crescendi and descrescendi that's mighty unusual. And he ornaments the music freely. But his expressive devices are never Romantic -- they come off as full-blooded, passionate responses to the music, and they never seem to violate the spirit. Sample the first-movement thunderstorm of the "Summer" concerto for an idea of what you're getting into here -- and you may find yourself ordering everything Biondi has ever issued. The complaints here are minor -- the sound, from 1991, is rather harsh; the instrumentalists are recorded so close up that there is a good deal of extraneous noise. Nevertheless, this is an excellent first choice for the Four Seasons -- or a worthwhile acquisition for someone who already has many versions.
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Classical - Released April 2, 2012 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released March 5, 2010 | Warner Classics

Booklet
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Classical - Released September 3, 2007 | naïve classique

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Opera - Released September 1, 2017 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet
No opera from Handel is as enigmatic as Silla. This fourth London opera was composed in 1713; and that’s as far as our knowledge goes! The written music scores are incomplete and we have no information about any contemporary performance. The first Handel experts tried to find an explanation and agreed upon the theory that Silla was written for a private show in the household of the Count of Burlington, who was at the time the composer’s patron. Then, in 1969, the discovery of a glossary from June 1713 established a possible date of the first performance. The inclusion of an extravagant work dedicated to the Duke d’Aumont, a recently appointed French ambassador, suggests the possibility of a show organized by or for the Duke. That could explain not only the absence of an English translation in the glossary, which is unique about Handel’s London operas, but also the relative brevity of the work. However, some problems remain unresolved. D’Aumont was a leading figure in the London life, and it seems rather unlikely that such an initiative would be ignored by the London press or forgotten by D’Aumont in his own writings. Was Silla played in 1713? As of yet, we can’t say for sure. There are further questions regarding the opera itself, in particular the choice of subject. This is indeed one of the rare historical operas from Handel concerned with Lucius Cornelius Silla’s end of life related by Plutarch; having seized Rome, this consul-come-tyran had his adversaries killed before retiring in a way as sudden as it was incredible in his country house to focus on his hobbies. It’s hard to imagine that this thread could fit an opera probably thought as a commemorative piece of an event of some sort: experts have been struggling to find answers and some have tried to discover an allegorical context. Apart from the theme, the quality and the meaning of the book have also been vehemently criticized. It’s significantly based on Italian cantatas from the composer’s youth and it’s interesting to notice that, as far as the style is concerned, the music goes back to a certain extent to his previous historical opera, Agrippina. Although the absurdities from its book make it an unlikely candidate to find a place in the great operatic repertoire, Silla contains enough musical beauties. Let’s also remember that Handel was holding his work in enough regard to recycle a considerable part of it into his next opera, Amadigi di Gaula. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released December 30, 2016 | naïve classique

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Classical - Released September 30, 2016 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet
Georg Philipp Telemann's 12 Fantasias for solo violin were written in 1735, when he was perhaps at the height of his fame. He also wrote sets of 12 solo works for other instruments, and these violin pieces were above all commercial enterprises. They are not fantasias in the usual sense, but multi-movement works in the Italian sonata manner, although the fast-slow-fast pattern is just one of several employed. They split the differences among Italianate sonata styles, the rising galant sound, and German fugal polyphony, each of which is artfully boiled down to violin lines that are considerably closer to the reach of amateur violinists than were the Bach sonatas and partitas for solo violin, composed 15 years earlier. This kind of smoothing down of styles into something easy to grasp and broadly accessible is pure Telemann, and you could jump in and sample anywhere to get the flavor of the whole. The music is not really in the tradition of virtuoso solo violin that Bach drew on, and there's a bit of tension in hearing it played by a violinist, such as Fabio Biondi, who's known for satisfyingly flashy performances of Italian repertory. Recordings of these works are not too common, and those played on a period instrument are rarer still, so it's worth your while to hear Biondi's Neapolitan Gagliano instrument of 1767 in this music. Biondi perhaps overpowers the music a bit, and the chilly church sound makes the music feel remote when it should have been pleasant and domestic. Your mileage may vary, however, and Biondi fans will welcome the chance to hear him play unaccompanied.
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Chamber Music - Released October 29, 2013 | Dynamic