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GRAMOPHONE (05/2002)
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Harmonia Mundi
HMG 508235.36

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Reviewer: John Duarte


Only some force majeure could have diverted my rapt attention from beginning to end of this disc. Roel Dieltiens is a Baroque cellist par excellence and the modest size of Ensemble Explorations (seven players including continuo) suits these works admirably. Vivaldi poured some of his finest music into his numerous concertos for bassoon and cello, both dual-register instruments for which he had obvious affection - to which the affecting slow movements richly testify. Dieltiens' superb bow control and his natural empathy with style and emotional aura make these memorable musical experiences. His 'vocal' nuancing of volume and addition of exquisite embellishment comfortably reach the benchmark set for me by Pleeth and Bylsma in their 1977 recording of the G minor Double Concerto, RV531 (L'Oiseau Lyre, 5/86). Listen to the Largo of the E flat Concerto, RV408 and prepare to tug a grateful forelock. These qualities enhance the quicker movements, albeit at a less intimate level.


The smaller ripieno is especially apt to the sonata-related concertos such as that in A minor, RV420, and in those in which it plays a more prominent role. Ensemble Explorations provide ample weight to ensure contrast; their incisiveness, energy and audible enthusiasm are infectious. Christine Busch and Richte van der Meer rise no less to the occasion the former outstandingly in the conversational Largo of the F major Concerto, RV544, and as soloist in that of the D major, RV561. A nicely varied and imaginatively used continuo makes a positive contribution. The quality of the recording per se calls for another tug of me forelock. If this marvellous disc does not feature in my Critics' Choice early next year, then 2002 will indeed have been a year to remember.

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