VIVALDI: Concerti for Bassoon RV 472, 481, 495, 498, 501 and 717 – Miho Fukui, bassoon/ Ensemble F – ARS Prod. multichannel SACD ARS-38165, 54:13 [Distr. by Naxos] *****:

Vivaldi’s bassoon concertos have for a long time been a guilty pleasure enjoyed by a few; even now, this remarkable body of ingenious, drop-dead gorgeous, romantic, funny and totally written to make every possible use of bassoonists and the instrument they play, has not made the headway it should have. Perhaps this superb new recording will make new converts.

Playing on a Baroque bassoon built by Peter de Koningh according to an instrument made by Thierriot Prudent in Paris around 1765, Miho Fukui and her seven-member original instrument, Ensemble F, take the listener through a combination of the famous and obscure.

In general the fast movements are sturdy, full of surprises and weird and wonderful rhetorical effects featuring both the woody sounds of the bassoon and the complementary colors and textures of the others; the slow movements are simply exquisite,

The sound, recorded at the Lake Sagamiko Exchange Center in Kanazawa, is equally exquisite, with a special ambient bloom in multichannel mode. The last 25 seconds of the Larghetto movement of RV 498 would make a touchstone track for a Baroque audiophile system. In addition to her musical insight and unique Vivaldian poetry, Ms Fukui contributes an absorbing, highly informative essay.

—Laurence Vittes