This six-CD box set brings together four major concerto sets composed including the most famous Il Cimento dell'Armonia e l'Invenzione awarded pride of place.
The eminently reliable Academy of Ancient Music play their period instruments with consummate zest under their charismatic conductor Christopher Hogwood and these sets date back to the early digital cum late analogue days when the fabled 'L'Oiseau-Lyre' label still produced those lavishly packaged boxes with their distinctive white covers and the wonderful paintings.
Vivaldi’s famous Four Seasons sway listeners’ emotions by depicting how country-folk in 18th-century Italy react to the joy of Spring, the heat of Summer, Autumn wine and Winter storms. In north-western Finland, the ancient tradition of folk-fiddle playing in Kaustinen has nurtured a new generation of string players, leading to the formation of two world-class orchestras (modern and baroque) in the region.
Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville, violinist of the royal chapel and just a bit younger than Rameau, is one of those French composers of the late Baroque generally relegated to the summary paragraph in historical surveys. His music is not terribly common on recordings, and the Brilliant label's resurrection of this late-'90s recording on Archiv, despite dreadful sound, is welcome.
Today we know that the reason for this penetration of Italian musical tastes into the small principality of Weimar lay elsewhere: the passion of the young prince Johann Ernst of Saxony for the Venetian concertos (and those of Vivaldi in particular). During the prince’s long period of study in Amsterdam, he had occasion to enjoy the exhibitions on the organ in the local Nieuwe Kerk by the blind virtuoso Jan Jacob de Graaf.
The "Concerto grosso" was eminently popular in Europe at the beginning of the 18th century, Arcangelo Corelli having set the trend with his Opus 6 published around 1710, but probably written much earlier. The main attraction seems to have been the possibilities opened up by having two groups of musicians in dialogue with one another.
Antonio Vivaldi was one of the most successful composers of the Baroque era, best known for his iconic set concertos for violin, The Four Seasons. L’Estro Armonico Op.3 is among the most important printed editions of Vivaldi’s concertos; the works immediately met with great acclaim after their publication in 1711, giving way to over 30 reprints in the subsequent 32 years.