In tandem with the “Vivaldian ardour” (International Record Review) of conductor-harpsichordist Andrea Marcon and his Venice Baroque Orchestra, violinist Giuliano Carmignola – “a wonderfully accomplished player” (Gramophone) – has raised the bar on recordings of the Venetian Baroque master. This 7-CD set contains many of Vivaldi’s most engaging concertos, enlivened with playing “full of character, energy and sensibility” (BBC Music Magazine) – including “a performance of the Four Seasons as fine as any” (ClassicsToday). It also features Carmignola and Marcon presenting the complete Bach Violin and Harpsichord Sonatas
This disc is really something special. Collectors are so spoiled for choice in the baroque repertoire at present, particularly on period instruments, but even in a glutted market this disc stands out for imaginative repertoire selection and outstanding interpretation. Its particularly gratifying, in these days of complete editions of everything, to see a discerning artist like Giuliano Carmignola choose four remarkably diverse works by three different composers, and simply play the living daylights out of them. The result roundly disproves the notion that Italian baroque violin concertos all sound the same, a point made even more forcefully by imaginative continuo work (on harpsichord, lute, and organ) by the Venice Baroque Orchestra that helps to emphasize each pieces individual character. The two Vivaldi concertos, for example, couldnt be more different.
Despite the popularity of works such as The Four Seasons and La Stravaganza, many of Vivaldi’s 250 concertos for violin remain largely unknown. The new recordings of the concertos RV 187 and 281 are based on Vivaldi’s original manuscript scores and capture the thrilling spontaneity of his compositional style. The concerto RV283 also includes a previously unpublished cadenza from the notebook of Vivaldi’s protégé Anna Maria. Very much a man of the 21st Century, Giuliano Carmignola combines his passion for the baroque with his love of motorcycling, which he calls, “Vivaldi con moto - motion and emotion from a MOTOcyclist-musician.”
It is important to note that these concertos were composed by Vivaldi (1678-1741) late in his career. Do not try to associate any type of chronology to the RV numbering of Vivaldi's works, as this numbering represents a simple cataloguing. You might be wondering, what makes a "late" Vivaldi concerto different from any other Vivaldi concerto…
This premiere recording of six Vivaldi concertos is full of surprises. The works are entirely unknown because, unlike his other compositions, they were written not for publication but for substantial private commissions from wealthy patrons. Dating from his most mature years, they exhibit a style very different from his earlier concertos, which often sound almost mass-produced. Though they are still cast in the customary three movements and are full of the usual sequences, they are more unpredictable, dramatic, and daring; adventurous in form, harmony, and texture; with sudden contrasts of mood, character, and expression. The slow movements are meltingly beautiful, but no two concertos are alike, either in detail or overall effect. Some movements hardly seem to hang together; they appear to consist of collages of motives, punctuated by bursts of virtuosity… –Edith Eisler
“Here Claudio Abbado is gambolling among the Brandenburg Concertos in this straightforward TV-style concert film, recorded in the classic 19th-century opera house at Reggio Emilia during an Italian tour in spring 2007. The orchestra is at first glance a curious gathering, mixing 'Baroque' players such as violinist Giuliano Carmignola and harpsichordist Ottavio Dantone with 'modern' names such as trumpeter Reinhold Friedrich and 'un-Baroque' recorder-player Michala Petri. Furthermore, a look round the instruments reveals mostly modern models, some hybrids…” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
These are . . . expressively engaging concertos by composers of the generation following Vivaldi, whose idiom by the way seldom comes to mind. Rather, it is that of Tartini, and never more so than in the cantabile style of the expansive and lyrical slow movements. Who better to disclose the poetic utterances of these pieces with their highly developed "esprit de fantaisie" than Giuliano Carmignola? I cannot think of any other violinist at the moment who feels this music with such depth and delicacy of expression and who can sustain the melodic line in a manner which mirrors the sustained style of an operatic aria . . . To my ears this music is every bit as rewarding as that of some better known contemporaries such as Locatelli. Transitional periods are usually fascinating and this one, bridging the Baroque and Classical is no exception. The Venice Baroque Orchestra under Andrea Marcon's direction offers sympathetic and crisp support, setting the seal on an excellent release.
Record Review / Nicholas Anderson, BBC Music Magazine (London) / 01. January 2010