Choc de l'année du Monde de la Musique -
Choc du Monde de la Musique -
10 de Classica-Répertoire
Director and violinist Amandine Beyer acknowledges in her booklet notes for this disc that the world may not seem to need another recording of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, but then she tops the bar she has set up by delivering an entirely distinctive reading of the work. Her version, with the Italian historical-instrument group Gli Incogniti (who are not quite as unknown as all that), is as strikingly revisionist as the various turbo-powered, operatic Vivaldi recordings that began coming out of Italy in the 1990s, but it is different in flavor. In her own words, Beyer seeks "lightweight forces and freedom of phrasing." The group is small, with microphones put down right in the middle, and you hear lots of internal lines and interplay rather than contrast between orchestra and soloist. The overall feel is light and agile; Beyer doesn't so much push the tempo (although there's a little of that) as imbue the solo lines with maximum variety, creating a fantasy-like feel. That works quite well with the Four Seasons concertos, which are rendered in a colorful enough way that they evoke many of the images in Vivaldi's accompanying printed sonnets (which would have been a profitable inclusion in the booklet). There are, however, enough startling choices, like the heavily plucked and much-faster-than-Largo central movement of the "Winter" concerto (track 18), that the disc may be more to the tastes of the adventurous than otherwise; sample extensively and decide. The Four Seasons are balanced with other concertos that are quite rare, two of them world premieres. One and possibly more of these works were written for Vivaldi's orchestra of illegitimate girls at the Ospedale della Pietà, and indeed the entire disc is easy to imagine in performance by that presumably small group. The Violin Concerto in B flat major, RV 372, "Per Signora Chiara," and Violin Concerto in B minor, RV 390, are late works that contribute anew to the understanding of how much Vivaldi contributed to the forerunners of Classicism. It may be a bit far out, but this is a fresh Vivaldi disc in every way.