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GRAMOPHONE (03/2020)
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Reviewer: Charlotte Gardner

If Ottavio Dantone and his Accademia Bizantina aren’t already ringing bells of recognition in your heads for the many fine contributions they have already made to date for The Vivaldi Edition on Naïve, then perhaps you’ll remember them as having been the crack ensemble behind Delphine Galou on her Gramophone Award-winning recital disc of Baroque operatic rarities, ‘Agitata’ (Alpha, 1/18). Still, even if this latest Vivaldi offering is genuinely your first encounter with them, it’s going to be a good one. With its mission to record around 450 Vivaldi works located in the National University Library of Turin, The Vivaldi Edition hasn’t just ended up being a conduit to exploring areas of Vivaldi’s output which had hitherto never seen the light of modern day. It’s also produced album after album of fizzing performances whose musical value stretches far beyond scholarly value. This latest addition, for which Dantone and his ensemble are joined by the violinist Alessandro Tampieri, is no exception to that rule: six violin concertos that are likely to have formed part of a 15-concerto-shaped financial lifeline thrown to Vivaldi by the Moravia-based Venetian nobleman Count Vinciguerra Tommaso Collalto during the ill-fated final trip to Vienna which saw the composer die in penury having arrived to find all the opera theatres closed on account on the death of Emperor Charles VI. These are late works representing a violinist’s treasure trove with their virtuoso inventiveness, huge range of articulation and phrasing, and frequently light and lucid galant textures.

It’s all been beautifully brought off here, too. From Tampieri himself, there’s a slender suppleness that makes for a lovely feel of rhapsodic freedom, yet without ever messing with the solidity of Vivaldi’s trademark rhythmic certainty. He also teases out every ounce of the works’ lyricism, whether in the virtuoso passagework or the aria-like extended melodic lines found in the slow movements. Accademia Bizantina, meanwhile, are finely nuanced, nimbly and tightly together, and revel gently in the music’s delicacy. Their continuo is especially magical – for instance, the way Dantone daintily fans out his final flourish at the end of RV371 in B flat’s first movement, or the deliciousness with which the archlute occasionally rises above the texture in the same concerto’s final Allegro and that of RV273 in E minor.

Another Vivaldi Edition cracker, and a subtly dainty one at that.

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