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Fanfare Magazine: 39:4 (03-04/2016) 
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Harmonia Mundi

Code-barres / Barcode : 3149020222126

"Strongly recommended"

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Reviewer: Robert Maxham

Gli Incogniti’s program of Vivaldi’s music in a theatrical mode (recalling the title of a publication by Benedetto Marcello, Il teatro alla moda, which lampoons Vivaldi as Aldiviva) opens with a crackling performance of Vivaldi’s Sinfonia to the opera L’Olimpiade, followed by a reading in a similarly attention-grabbing vein of the Violin Concerto in F Major, RV 282—an astonishing contribution in its first movement to the violin literature, and almost as astonishing a contribution to Amandine Beyer’s discography. Beyer plays with a somewhat astringent tone, but her hyper-sharp technical command, featuring articulation of lightening rapidity and spitting staccatos as well as high-wire acrobatics, should win the admiration even of those who dislike what has come to be taken as the period’s authentic sound, as displayed unambiguously in the slow movement. The Concerto in B Minor for mistuned violin (b-d-a-d), RV 391, sounds a bit subdued—those who might doubt what effect tuning the D-string down a step might have on a violin’s overall sonority should listen to this (as well, of course, to Heinrich Biber’s Mystery Sonatas, with its wealth of timbral effects). Beyer appends to the Concerto in D Major, RV 228 (a work that Olivier Fourés mentions in the notes as having been played by Johann Pisendel), plus the cadenza often associated with RV 212 (for the Solemnity of the Tongue of St. Anthony of Padua), and plays Pisendel’s ornaments for the slow movement. Beyer’s ornamentation in that movement sounds flinty rather than liquid, but the finale bristles with exuberant virtuosity leading up to the cadenza, once considered stupendous and now possibly little more than effective, though amply exciting in Beyer’s reading.

After an expressive reading of the alternative slow movement for the Concerto, RV 314, Beyer and the ensemble endow the Concerto in G Minor, RV 323, with brittle-sounding yet bracingly virtuosic performances of the first and third movements. Beyer and Fourés reconstructed the missing violin part of the Concerto in G Minor, RV 322, from the orchestral parts an, according to the notes improvised the slow movement’s solo during the recording sessions themselves. The project begs the question of whether listeners, without this history in the booklet, might have identified the solo part as having been played ad hoc. As did Adrian Chandler (with the help of David Rattray, on Avie 2344), Amandine Beyer had to create an instrument to play the Concerto in G Major, RV 313, for violin in tromba marina. As did Rattray’s adapted creation, the violin used by Beyer rattles excitedly in the first and third movements. The ballet music (an elegant Largo and a brief Allegro) for Arsilda Regina di Ponto also involved Beyer and Fourés in a creative project, for only the bass parts survived. The breathless Giga from the Concerto in G Minor, RV 316 and the sensitive, flowing Andante from the Concerto in B♭ Major, RV 372a (with the flow dammed psychologically at times by Beyer’s acidulous timbre, yet overall still magical), also appear in reconstructed versions by Fourés. The program closes with Pisendel’s version of the slow movement of the Concerto, RV 228, without the bass line.

The program delivers much of what the jacket promises—a highly theatrical program, dazzling in the range of its sonorities and overwhelming in its rhetorical impact. Strongly recommended. Aldaviva indeed!


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