VIVALDI: “Venetian Dreams” = 6 Concerti, Op. 10; Sonata a 4 al Santo Sepolcro in E-flat Major; Concerto for Strings in G Minor, RV 157 – Matthias Maute, recorder and traverso /REBEL /Joerg-Michael Schwartz – Bridge 9377, 56:40 [Distr. by Albany] ****:
Quite a musical dynamo, this recording, enough to convince me that another full-blown “Vivaldi revival” marks our times! The opening Concerto in F Major, Op. 10, No. 1 “La Tempesta di Mare,” RV 433 (1715) for alto recorder, strings and basso continuo has a decidedly electric current to it, with virtuoso Maute’s weaving in and out of a string storm at sea. Vivaldi had re-worked pre-existing pieces to expand on his ideas and exploit the Lombardic rhythms that provide such extraordinary motor propulsion to his oeuvre. Since the genre of flute concerto did not exist, Vivaldi often had to scour for musical scraps to assemble as continuous compositions that featured the traverso, or cross-blown flute that had become popular in Northern Italy. Among the several strings in Vivaldi’s palette, he utilizes the guitar as a natural extension of his “serenade” ethos, especially in slow movements.
The Concerto in G Minor, Op. 10, No. 2 “La Notte,” also features the alto recorder, but the affect seems to be programmatic, portraying il sonno and fantasmi (sleep and nightmares, Presto and Largo, respectively). The Presto section indulges in some mighty fleet footwork for all participants. The last movement seems to anticipate the Concerto Op. 10, No. 3 in D Major, RV 428 “Il Gardellino” (“the Goldfinch”). The high flute part in “the goldfinch” chirps most effectively, literally in a solo cadenza that breaks off intermittently to dialogue with the continuo. With guitar accompaniment (Daniel Swenberg), the Cantabile second movement with flute and cello assumes a decidedly Baroque air of a country garden. The energetic final Allegro enjoys that same celebration of Nature’s bounty that we hear in the primavera concerto from The Seasons.
Coming between the Op. 10, No. 2 and the Op. 10, No. 3, we have a sonata di chiesa, a church sonata in E-flat Major, RV 130, likely composed after 1730. For solo strings, the piece conveys a heavy, perhaps tragic affect rife with passing dissonances. The Allegro ma poco that ensues bears an emotional, antique likeness to aspects of Corelli’s “Christmas” Concerto. REBEL includes one more such string-solo work, the Concerto in G Minor, RV 157, a rather virtuosic affair in lugubrious colors. Whether the three movement piece served as a theater interlude or opening sinfonia remains pure speculation.
It was specifically for the edition of flute concertos, Op. 10 that Vivaldi composed the G Major Concerto, Op. 10, No. 4 in G Major, RV 435 for the publisher Estienne Roger, of Amsterdam. A genial conversational piece, its key sits well for the transverse flute, and its easy gait makes for delightful musing. The central Largo moves in exquisite gestures, an elegant pavane. Flute and harpsichord (Dongsok Shin) combine for some masterful flourishes in the final Allegro. The Concerto in F Major, Op. 10, No. 5, RV 434 for alto recorder has a slow movement originally in F Minor, so Vivaldi took it down to a more agreeable G Minor mode. The accompanying instruments play con sordino (muted) so the affect seems unusually pensive and intimate. The last concerto in this collection, No. 6 in G Major, RV 437 Vivaldi adapted from a prior invention for recorder, oboe, violin, bassoon, and basso, RV 101. Maute’s alto recorder executes turns and mordants with suave facility, the mix of textures and the occasional extended melody intimating a “romantic” sensibility. The Largo moves in plastic motion, one easily found in the music of Gluck when he wants an ardent moment in his opera. The last Allegro ambles and cavorts in brisk motion, Maute’s ushering in a series of wonderful roulades and flourishes.
Haydn Quartets, spanning two decades