VIVALDI: Le quattro stagione (The Four Seasons); Violin Concerto in D, “Il grosso mogul”; G.A. BRESCIANELLO: Violin Concerto – La Folia Barockorchester – Stockfisch

VIVALDI: Le quattro stagione (The Four Seasons); Violin Concerto in D Major RV208, “Il grosso mogul”; G.A. BRESCIANELLO: Violin Concerto in C – La Folia Barockorchester/ Robin Peter Muller, violin – Stockfisch multichannel SACD (4.0) SFR 357.4086, 62:02 ***1/2:

I was hoping there would be some sanity present in this release, but with so many others on the market each recording of Four Seasons has to try and prove a point. For two of the pieces on this well-recorded disc, the “Il grosso mogul” concerto of Vivaldi and the unusual yet very engrossing and entertaining concerto by Brescianello, the utterly willful and wildly provocative nature of these performances are actually enticing and in many ways thrilling. But they are certainly highly personal and almost in a category of performance art.

This is where the trouble starts in a warhorse like Seasons. There is certainly no new interpretation under the sun, and this is hardly the first lightning-fast small-ensemble, lets-make-every-line-of-the-poems-expressive-and-meaningful recording. Fact of the matter is that this is first and foremost a concerto and as a concerto it must be judged, not as some sort of created tone poem. Robin Peter Muller has technique aplenty, even if one might realistically question all sort of musical decisions he makes, and his La Folia Barockorchester, if one can consider eight people including soloist and continuo an “orchestra”, plays with zestful enthusiasm and a lot of energy. But the stopping and starting, long stretched delays far exceeding established rest values, and excessive manipulation of notes to the point of distortion—all pointing to the co-opting of the score for the sake of highly manipulated and egocentric presentation—could prove entertaining as a one-off, but repeated hearings will most likely necessity changing the album. The 4.0 surround sound is superb.

—Steven Ritter

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