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GRAMOPHONE (11/2012)
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Reviewer: Iain Fenlon

Modo Antiquo and friends offer ‘all-new’ Vivaldi Musicology and the recording industry are sometimes uneasy bedfellows, particularly in relation to early repertories. Dodgy reconstructions of music for great historical occasions are just one of the items on the shelves of the Old Spuriosity Shoppe and much-trumpeted discoveries of new masterpieces are another. In this context, this recording of newly identified compositions by Vivaldi is beyond reproach, since all of the works have been accepted as genuine by the official body which pronounces on such things.

The opening piece, the concerto for transverse flute known as Il Gran Mogol, was discovered in Edinburgh in 2010. It is given here in a stunning performance by Alexis Kossenko, whose mellow tones, combined with discrete ornamentation, well-integrated into the melodic contours of the slow movement, give way to a breathtakingly virtuoso account of the final movement. Two violin sonatas identified by the distinguished British Vivaldi expert Michael Talbot among the manuscripts of the Foundling Museum in London are given crisp, elegant performances by Anton Steck, again with stylish improvised ornamentation that does not distract. The final instrumental work, the A major Violin Concerto, is preserved only anonymously and so might seem the weakest candidate for secure attribution to ‘Il Prete Rosso’ but stylistic clues and strong thematic relationships to authenticated pieces make it virtually certain that the work is his.

Of the five separately preserved operatic arias which punctuate the recording, four are from the virtually unknown opera L’inganno trionfante in amore, which marks the composer’s return to the Venetian theatre after an absence of almost five years. Here they are exquisitely sung by Ann Hallenberg, who expertly captures their individual distinctive moods with fair and sensitive musical imagination. Sheer delight from beginning to end.

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