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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
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Classical - Released February 7, 2020 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
Violinist Fabio Biondi has a singular capacity for finding something new and exciting in the music of Antonio Vivaldi whenever he considers it, a prodigious feat which he demonstrates with "Concerti per La Pietà", a new collection of works calling for a variety of demanding solo challenges, superbly met by Biondi and his colleagues from Europa Galante. In his Venetian years the well-spring of Vivaldian inventiveness was fed by the composer working with one of the leading orchestras of early eighteenthcentury Europe: the one at the Ospedale della Pietà, the charitable institution which took in, cared for – and educated – girls who had been orphaned or abandoned. Within the ospedale were nurtured instrumental virtuosos – known today only by their “sporting nicknames”: Bettina della viola, Margherita del arpa doppia, Lucieta della tromba, etc. Calling variously for solo violin, two violins, lute, cello, organ, or viola d’amore (Biondi plays an unreconstructed 1758 Vinaccia instrument), the concertos recorded here are drawn from across the thirty years in which Vivaldi worked at the ospedale. The freshness and personalness of Fabio Biondi’s musicmaking with Europa Galante has itself now been in evidence for a remarkable three decades and this new Album, conceived as a special 30thanniversary recording, won’t disappoint listeners ready to have their preconceptions challenged yet be stimulated by consummate musicianship. © Glossa
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Violin Concertos - Released February 24, 2015 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
There are two distinctive features to this release on the Spanish label Glossa. First is the return to Vivaldi of the flamboyant Italian historical-performance violinist Fabio Biondi; he made his name with highly original Vivaldi recordings in the early 2000s, but has ventured into other territories since then with mixed results. His high-energy, high-contrast Vivaldi is always a pleasure to hear. Better still, it's applied here to some music to which it is unusually well suited, and furthermore to music that's been hitherto unknown. The six concertos on the program were part of a set compiled by a nobleman in what is now the Czech city of Brno; in 1740 it would have been German-speaking Brünn in the Habsburg empire. Vivaldi, at the end of his financial rope, had fled Italy for Habsburg Vienna in the hopes of finding an atmosphere more congenial to his music. He apparently composed these pieces shortly before his death. The Concerti dell'Addio (Concertos of Farewell) title is a misleading one; Vivaldi wasn't planning on dying, and the concertos have no debilitated mood. But the works are dazzling fusions of styles, careening from high-level virtuosity to the new light galant style and making it all fit together. Biondi ramps up the spectacle with tempo shifts, continuo contrasts, and liberal ornamentation, and while his reading as usual might not be for everybody, it will make some feel as though they've heard something entirely new in Vivaldi. Glossa's sound is not really successful; it's miked very close up -- breathing and all -- for no good reason, and the church acoustic would not have been a match for the music in its own time. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 26, 2010 | Warner Classics

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
There is no complete surviving score for Vivaldi's Ercole su'l Termodonte, but there is enough existing material that modern scholars have been able to reconstruct it primarily by making new settings of the lost recitatives. The first production of the opera since Vivaldi's time was at Spoleto in 2006 in a version by Alessandro Ciccolini, which was released as a DVD. Conductor Fabio Biondi made a version introduced in Venice in 2007, which is recorded on this 2010 Virgin CD. Biondi's recording has the advantage of two international superstars in the leading roles, tenor Rolando Villazón and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, and soprano Diana Damrau is nearly in their league. Villazón's earthy voice is usually associated with 19th century and verismo Italian repertoire, but he has an acute sensitivity to Baroque vocal style, and his robust, almost baritonal tenor is entirely appropriate for a larger-than-life character like Hercules. DiDonato excels as Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, singing with her characteristic brilliance and warm humanity. The rest of the cast consists mostly of singers who are superstars or near-superstars in the more circumscribed world of Baroque opera: soprano Patrizia Ciofi, mezzo-sopranos Vivica Genaux and Romina Basso (who sounds like a genuine contralto), counter tenor Philippe Jaroussky, and tenor Topi Lehtipuu. The vocal standards are predictably high; the singers are in absolute control of Vivaldi's extreme demands and they have the ease with the repertoire to make it sound spontaneous and effortless. These are all performers with exceptionally lovely voices -- pure, velvety, colorful, and supple -- so the recording should be a pleasure for any fans of vocal music. The singers are also superb actors, and the eight leads create distinctly differentiated characters. Biondi leads Europa Galante in a performance of exquisite precision and refinement (although the natural horns used in some arias add an appropriately rough-hewn quality to the warriors' music), and the continuo parts are especially beautifully realized. The sound is clean, detailed, and spacious, with excellent balance. © TiVo
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Chamber Music - Released June 22, 2018 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
If, usually, we associate Paganini to his twenty-four Caprices and the devilish virtuosity they demand of the violinist, you will see him here in a completely new light: the works for violin and guitar, much closer to Haydn and Mozart than to the devil’s hand that guided them for the Caprices. Written at the very beginning of the 19th century for some, and in the 1830s for the ones of the collections known as Centone di sonate, these works give prominence both to the violin and the guitar—we will remind you here that Paganini was also a phenomenal guitarist. As for the term “Centone”, it evokes a collection of pieces composed of elements reused from one or many other works; some kind of patchwork, in a way, and indeed the composer integrated there a bit of everything that was in fashion at the time, from the waltz to the polonaise, the pastoral to the march—we don’t necessarily know from whom or from where he took it, or if he just used the term to characterize the medley aspect of the thing. Fabio Biondi on violin and Giangiacomo Pinardi on Romantic guitar (an instrument from 1825) have a field day, and prove us that Paganini could be something other than a simple dispenser of virtuosity. © SM/Qobuz
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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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Full Operas - Released September 1, 2017 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
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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Chamber Music - Released May 17, 2019 | Glossa

Hi-Res Booklet
In the course of his illustrious career, Fabio Biondi has nurtured a remarkable empathy with Italian music from across many centuries, but strikingly so with the early Baroque violin sonata repertory, the development of which was dramatically propelled into the future by Arcangelo Corelli with his Op 5 collection. It is this empathy possessed by Biondi which has inspired the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome (from its bowed instrument collection) to make him a loan of the precious 1690 “Tuscan” violin made by Antonio Stradivari, for this Glossa recording. Another skill possessed by Biondi is his deft assemblage of programmes, whether for concert or for recordings, and this new release of early eighteenthcentury violin works touches on the impact that Corelli’s music had on music-making in Dresden, Venice, Padua, London and Amsterdam, to name just a few of the destinations affected as the fame of “Arcangelo Bolognese” fanned out from Rome across Europe. With a continuo team from his Europa Galante ensemble (Antonio Fantinuoli, cello, Giangiacomo Pinardi, theorbo and Paola Poncet, harpsichord), Biondi plays sonatas by Vivaldi, Corelli, Geminiani, Tartini and Locatelli, and a Ciaccona by Veracini. Recorded in Rome, on an instrument which was originally made for the Florentine court of Ferdinando de’ Medici (and which, over time, has survived all manner of vicissitudes on its journey to Rome!), Fabio Biondi expertly captures the flavour of the eighteenth-century violin sonata. © Glossa
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Classical - Released September 30, 2016 | Glossa

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Chamber Music - Released January 1, 1990 | naïve classique

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Classical - Released January 1, 1993 | naïve classique

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Classical - Released January 1, 1993 | naïve classique

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Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | naïve classique

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Classical - Released January 1, 2000 | naïve classique

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Classical - Released January 1, 1997 | naïve classique

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Classical - Released January 1, 1996 | naïve classique

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Sacred Oratorios - Released March 1, 2011 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet
Jephtha (1752) was George Frederick Handel's final oratorio, and it was composed during a period of incipient blindness and declining health. Yet the composer's artistic powers were undiminished in this dramatization of the Biblical story, for the arias and choruses are as memorable as any from Handel's earlier works in the genre, including Messiah and Israel in Egypt. This 2008 recording by Fabio Biondi, the Collegium Vocale Ghent, and the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra is a brilliant period presentation, and the spry rhythms, lean counterpoint, clear textures, and distinctive colors of original instruments combine to make this an especially enjoyable performance of a fairly neglected masterpiece. While the account of Jephtha's rash vow to God and subsequent sacrifice of his daughter is one of the most tragic episodes in the Bible, the story was altered here to have a happy ending, so much of the score is filled with joyous and exultent music, and the ensemble is quite upbeat. The vocal soloists offer straightforward delivery with clear diction and natural vocal tone with minimal vibrato, so the singing is wholly appropriate to the Baroque sonorities of the orchestra, though to some ears the style might seem flat and decidedly unoperatic. Collegium Vocale Ghent is a small choir of approximately 20 voices, so the choruses have an immediacy, clarity, and briskness that larger choral ensembles can only envy. This recording has some serious competition, notably in previous renditions by John Eliot Gardiner and Marcus Creed, but because Jephtha is something of a rarity in the catalog, it is worth giving this package a try. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 2, 2012 | Warner Classics

The four concerti in The Four Seasons of Antonio Vivaldi have probably earned the distinction of being the most frequently recorded classical works in the digital era. Originally published as part of a set of 12 concerti as Vivaldi's Opus 8, the other eight concerti also get some attention, particularly La tempesta di mare, but the set as a whole is comparatively seldom recorded. In Europa Galante's Virgin Classics release, Vivaldi: Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione, violinist Fabio Biondi, who has recorded The Four Seasons at least once before for Opus 111, leads his expert ensemble in the whole of the Opus 8 set. The 12 concerti fit comfortably onto two CDs, with some reshuffling of the pieces into a different order than that assembled by Vivaldi, though not through splitting up the "big four." The very first thing that comes to mind in listening to Biondi on this Virgin recording is how restrained and natural this interpretation sounds versus some other, and perhaps more highly publicized, recordings by others. Biondi is not auditioning for the Kronos Quartet here; his tone is sweet, finger work fleet, and he makes sparing, but expressive use of vibrato. Europa Galante is in a relatively small configuration in this outing, but Virgin's excellent recording conveys the impression of a bigger band. Some tempos are zippy indeed; the fast-moving parts of L'inverno threaten to catch fire, whereas certain movements, such as the final Allegro in La primavera, are given plenty of room to breathe and thus, are a little longer than most performances. Elasticity is the key to Biondi's interpretation, but it is never employed in a manner that causes the music to sag, as in some older, modern instrument recordings. The band does a great job of coordinating some of the special effects used in these works -- the driving accents in La caccia are marvelously tasty and point up Vivaldi's revolutionary approach to rhythm in instrumental music. Europa Galante's Virgin recording of Vivaldi: Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione should please all but those who have zero tolerance for period instrument performers, and is so charismatic that even some among the latter might make an exception for it. © TiVo
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Classical - Released September 3, 2007 | naïve