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Il Giardino Armonico Vivaldi Four Seasons

Review by: John Greene

As Concerto Italiano and its harpsichordist/director Rinaldo Alessandrini are gradually becoming the most recruited ensemble in Opus 111’s ambitious ongoing Vivaldi cycle, it apparently was only a matter of time before they got their chance at Le Quattro Stagioni (regardless of Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante’s excellent and still-available first recording for the same label). And as we would expect from their superb previous Vivaldi recordings, it’s a great one, characterized by remarkably crisp articulation, expert ensemble, and meticulous attention to detail. In fact, Alessandrini not only acknowledges the importance of Vivaldi’s accompanying sonnets and their relationship to the programmatic allusions in the score, but in the accompanying notes (modestly titled “The whole truth about the four seasons!”) he offers a hilarious complete blow by blow reenactment of their significance. The proof however is in Concerto Italiano’s performance, which–especially given the vastly competitive field–ranks among the best.

Four

Il Giardino Armonico Vivaldi The Four Seasons

La Primavera’s early bird-call ritornellos are exquisitely rendered with subtle freshness and lift, rivaling Il Giardino Armonico’s and both of Europa Galante’s equally splendid performances (including their more recent Virgin recording–type Q6463 in Search Reviews). L’autumno’s second-movement Adagio molto march is inordinately broad, dramatically heightened by Alessandrini’s clockwork keyboard precision set in a fabric of remarkably seamless strings. L’inverno’s outer Allegro non molto and Allegro lento movements are executed with spine-tingling agility and bracing virtuosity that powerfully evoke winter’s mood of resignation as well as frigid temperatures. Numerous other captivating moments enliven the rest of the performance, leading to the conclusion that for sheer attention to and imaginative conception of programmatic detail, Alessandrini and Concerto Italiano are peerless.

Opus 111’s sonics are equally spectacular, with superb instrumental detail presented in the context of a consistently well-balanced ensemble. Alessandrini’s previously mentioned notes not only entertain, but are also creatively informative–a refreshing alternative to the usual (and often boring) historical overview. Also included is a bonus “portrait” CD highlighting Concerto Italiano’s varied achievements, spanning repertoire from Marenzio to Rossini–a collection guaranteed to whet your appetite for more.


Recording Details:

Just as unconventional are its venues: Il Giardino Armonico has even played its bright and brisk interpretation of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in the 19th-century splendor of Milan’s famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Giovanni Antonini, Il Giardino Armonico, Milano. Teldec Classics/Warner Classics 2564 64763-0. You can find recordings of Vivaldi’s Le Quattro stagioni (The Four Seasons) performed on period and modern instruments in arrangements for chamber orchestras, full orchestras, guitar ensembles, wooden blocks, tin drums, and glockenspiels.

Reference Recording:

Reference Recording: Il Giardino Armonico (Teldec), Europa Galante (Opus 111 & Virgin) ANTONIO VIVALDI - The Four Seasons Op. 1-4 Alessandrini, Rinaldo (conductor).

Il Giardino Armonico (Teldec), Europa Galante (Opus 111 & Virgin)

Il Giardino Armonico Vivaldi Four Seasons


Giardino
  • Alessandrini, Rinaldo (conductor)
  • Opus 111 - 30363
  • CD

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