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International Record Review - (07-08//2013)
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Reviewer:  Nicholas Anderson


The fifth volume of violin concertos in Naïve’s Vivaldi Edition contains works inscribed to his German pupil and friend Johann Georg Pisendel. Pisendel was one of the great virtuosos of his day. A contemporary of Bach, he studied with Vivaldi in Venice in 1716-17, returning to Dresden with many of Vivaldi’s sonatas and concertos. To some of these he added wind parts to accommodate the varied make-up of the Dresden court orchestra of which he became leader in 1729. The seven concertos on this disc, though, are pure Vivaldi and were either written expressly for Pisendel or copied by him for performance in Dresden. The multiplicity of editorial decisions are lucidly presented by Cesare Fertonani in his accompanying essay.

Two pieces here, RV242 and RV379, are comparatively well known since they belong to Vivaldi’s printed sets of Op. 8 and Op. 12, respectively. While none of the remaining works is new to the catalogue the generously proportioned Concerto in D major ‘written for the solemn feast of St. Anthony’ is played in a version which differs in several respects from that which is more customarily performed. It is altogether splendid, showy piece with a place for an improvised cadenza in the first movement and a fully written one by Vivaldi in the concluding movement. Soloist Dmitry Sinkovsky, who also directs the excellent ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro, rises to the occasion with solar radiance, dazzling us with his virtuosity and touching our sensibilities with his intuitive feeling for affecting ornament, just as we may imagine that Vivaldi and Pisendel once upon a time wowed their audiences.

Sinkovsky plays with expressive delicacy and a winning ‘gentillesse’ which well serves the interests of slow movements the ‘Largo’ of the D minor Concerto, RV242 affords a pleasing instance but also of faster ones, where Vivaldi’s solo writing is rich in melodic fantasy. Such is the case with the opening movement of the C major Concerto, RVI 77, where the delicate tracery of the solos provides a striking contrast with the ferocious rhythmic vigour of the tuttis. Lovers of Vivaldi’s operas will recognize the introductory thematic idea of its opening movement as that of the Sinfonia to L’Olimpiade. Indeed, throughout the programme the atmosphere of the theatre seldom seems far away, a feature that is emphasized by the demonstrative gestures of the musicians of Il Pomo d’Oro. For me, though, the winning quality of the disc is the alluring and sensitive playing of Sinkovsky himself. It is ever present, bringing out the magical poetry and lyricism of the music, its rhythm, its energy and its playfulness stimulating the imagination and touching the heart.

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