Yet another slick, polished version of Vivaldi’s perennial instantiation of Nature’s transitions in music, this time from sweet-toned Sarah Chang and the bright-spirited Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (rec. 21-24 May, 2007). There are occasional risks in Chang’s playing, which I like, such as her attack in the G Minor, RV 315 “Summer” Concerto’s opening Allegro, with a lovely sustaining drone from bass Jordan Frazier and tinkling cymbal from harpsichord continuo John Gibbons. Indeed, the bass lines throughout are clear, articulate, and rhythmically varied. Chang’s strong suit is the lovely arioso she conveys, tempered by a sizzling drive that puts her more in line with Guila Bustabo and her ilk than the milquetoast virtuosi who glut the market. After a highly meditative Adagio, the summer storm breaks in full force, Chang whipping through the broken chords, blood-pounding furioso. Haunting, hushed chords sans clichés in the lovely Adagio of “Autumn,” RV 293, the solo violin absent. The ensuing march enjoys a pompous verve from Orpheus, while Chang applies a raspy, hearty peasant dance spiced with swirling ornaments.
“Winter” in F Minor, RV 297 has its greatest realization on record for me in the collaboration on CBS LP between Isaac Stern and the Jerusalem Chamber Orchestra, but Chang’s provides plenty of digital firepower and silky maneuvers. The plucked accompaniment for the Largo section complements an arched song of tender sentiments. The serpentine melodic line of the final Allegro enjoys the nuances of loud and soft in ravishing alternation, the ice cracking beneath our cautious feet, the laughter bursting forth in our appreciation of Nature’s dangers and generosity, both. The concluding work, the G Minor Concerto from Op. 12, resonates with Lombardic self confidence, coy and demure at once. The extended Largo emerges as a church sonata, a kind of organ sonority in the deep chant of the celli and violas, the moment anticipating further developments by Viotti.
— Gary Lemco