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Fanfare Magazine: 44:1 (09-10 /2020) 
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Reviewer: Michael De Sapio

Early recordings in the Vivaldi revival tended to treat his output as an undifferentiated stream, giving the impression of a composer who cranked out innumerable concertos in more or less the same style. More recently scholars and performers have made us aware of stylistic periods and trends within Vivaldi’s output, such as the increasingly Rococo or pre-Classical elements in his later violin concertos. Volume 67 of Naïve’s Vivaldi Edition concentrates on violin concertos from this later period, after 1725, in which he showed the new influences emanating from Naples that emphasized homophony, lighter texture, and simplified harmonies. The violin is at all times either an operatic soloist or an acrobat, and the orchestra is like the stage platform on which it performs. The E-Minor Concerto, RV 281, was familiar to me from an old recording by Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante, and it may well serve to sum up this phase of Vivaldi’s art with its sharply etched themes and wild, spontaneous soloistic episodes.

After listening to scores of Vivaldi both as a reviewer for Fanfare and otherwise, I have come to the conclusion that his was essentially an ephemeral art. That is to say, for all its surface excitement, boldness and invention, it does not really stick with me. He was not a universal composer like Bach or Mozart, and his work is very much tied to a particular time and place. Some of these concertos only hang together by sheer audacity on the part of the performers; I can’t think of many other examples of repertoire in which the performer is so crucial to putting the music across. These performances by Concerto Italiano and Boris Begelman serve fully the spontaneity of Vivaldi’s inspiration, but with an overall polish and taste that will wear well with repeated listening.

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