SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

VIVALDI: The Four Seasons (Dresden Version with Winds); GIOVANNI GUIDO: Scherzi Armonici on the Four Seasons – L’Arte dell’Arco/ Federico Guglielmo, solo violin & dir. – CPO

Fattening up the instrumentation of Vivaldi’s classic, plus a shorter similar work by a contemporary of Vivaldi’s.

Published on August 18, 2012

ANTONIO VIVALDI: The Four Seasons (Dresden Version with Winds); GIOVANNI GUIDO: Scherzi Armonici on the Four Seasons – L’Arte dell’Arco (period instruments)/ Federico Guglielmo, solo violin & director – CPO multichannel SACD 777 037-2, 56:24 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:

In this day and age of hundreds of different recordings of Vivaldi’s chestnut (since about 1940), including transcriptions for a dizzying variety of instruments (I understand you can’t walk a few blocks around Venice today without running into buskers playing some from The Four Seasons), one thing that doesn’t seem to have been done is to adapt The Four Seasons concertos “con molti stromenti.”

Guglielmo has done that, with respect for the musical text and musical practice. Different instrumentation is used for the four movements. Spring has recorders, oboes, horns and bassoons and other soloists. Summer has a larger arrangement featuring recorders and bassoon. Autumn has solo parts for oboes, horns and bassoons, and for Winter there are added strings but no wind instruments.

The 17-minute second four seasons suite on the disc comes from a Genovese composer of Vivaldi’s time and represents a sort of French version of Vivaldi’s model. It even has similar poems to preface each of the four concerti—printed in the back of the note booklet as are those for Vivaldi’s work. Although La Printemps is almost the length of the four Vivaldi concerti, the other three concerti here are quite short. The original manuscript seemed to call for a similar arrangement of recorders, oboes and bassoon together with string instruments. I enjoyed this one greatly, probably due to its freshness.

The hi-res surround is excellent and the musicians of L’Arte dell’Arco highly skilled. The sometimes wiry-sounding early string instruments come thru naturally and without annoyance.

—John Sunier

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