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International Record Review - (02//2014)
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Reviewer:  Nicholas Anderson


Vivaldi’s 25 or so concertos for two violins and strings are among his most rewarding both in respect of fine craftsmanship and for the sustained lyricism expressed by the solo protagonists. In his writing for these Vivaldi is resourceful and affecting, as often as not affording pride of place to the second soloist. None of the six concertos featured here is new to the catalogue of recorded music but the performances inject a rhythmic vitality and a feeling for expressive nuance that is sometimes absent from older versions. The differences between this playing and that of earlier essays in Vivaldi performance lie less in the immediate contrasts afforded by period instruments than in the articulation of phrases, application of ornaments and the generally brisker tempos preferred today.

Riccardo Minasi, Dmitry Sinkovsky and Il Pomo d’Oro have previously contributed to the Naïve Vivaldi Edition with two recently released discs of solo violin concertos (reviewed in June 2012 and July/August 2013 respectively). Their playing is energetic and redolent of theatrical gesture and this is splendid in the outer movements, which often call for extravagant display. Even so, I find their playing a shade too aggressive on occasion. It sounds almost as if they believe that the music will cease to engage the listener if they do not indulge in over assertive bowing, startling dynamic contrasts and Formula One tempos. Generally speaking, though, if it is a wayward inclination it is in the right direction, for my ears no longer respond with much affection to some of the bland utterances of half a century ago.

What carries the day with these new performances are rhythmic elasticity, incisive ensemble and an evenly spoken dialogue between the soloists. This last-mentioned is especially rewarding in the centrally placed slow movements where a delicately expressive rapport illuminates Vivaldi’s conversational writing for the two principals. The poetic content of these movements is affecting, as indeed are many of the solo sections in the faster outer movements. I am astonished that so many of us persist in the notion that Vivaldi’s writing is merely formulaic. That element is often present but it is a minuscule price to pay for the sheer expressive variety, the rich seam of ideas and the irresistibly alluring poetry contained within.

In summary, here is a mainly satisfying disc which should overcome any issues concerning duplication. Further instalments are eagerly awaited.

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