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Vivaldi - The Four Seasons / The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood
Antonio Vivaldi, Christopher Hogwood, The Academy of Ancient Music
Vivaldi - The Four Seasons / The Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (12) - Disc #1


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Still the Best Interpretation
J. Poss | Pahrump, Nevada | 01/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Christopher Hogwood's interpretation and The Academy of Ancient Music's performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons still holds it's own as the best interpretation available, even thou there are many new interpretations by new original instrument groups. Those new original instrument groups lack the luster and beautifully accurate playing of Christopher Hogwood's group. Groups such as Fabio Biondi and his Europa Galante (ASIN: B00005IA1S) or Giovanni Antonini's Il Giardino Armonico with Enrico Onofri as soloist (ASIN: B000000SPU). These two new groups have fanciful, extroverted and super fast performances which are similar to Harnoncourt's ground breaking literal interpretation with his Concentus Musicus from 1977 (ASIN: B000000SL0). Harnoncourt's was the first one to take the actual poems Vivaldi included with the manuscript and interperate the music to fit them. It's interesting how tame Harnoncourt's performance seems now compared to Biondi's and Antonini's interpretation. But the truth is, both new group's soloists sometimes sound sqeeky and the tempos are just too fast in some instances. Harnoncourt's was a little sloppy. The only recording I've heard that comes close to Hogwood is Giuliano Carmignola and the Venice Baroque Soloists on Sony (ASIN: B0000CD5H1). Carmignola truly does have a beautiful tone and an amazing command of the instrument through out the entire recording. However, Carmignola's Summer Presto sounds like a tornado instead of what it should be, a summer storm. Don't take me wrong, I really love Harnoncourt's and the newer group's recordings. Each one has it's own unique qualities, but Christopher Hogwood's recording is the one I keep coming back to. Hogwood strikes a balance between the rough sometimes unpleasant sound of the Biondi, Antonini, and Harnoncourt and the boring modern instrument interpretations (although they are starting to imitate these groups interpretations). Hogwood has just the right amount of passion without it disintegrating the performance. In fact, his performance and recording come together so well and sounds so beautiful that it creates tingles up and down my spine in many moments. Listen to the starkness of Winter in the slow movement achieved by using restrained use of the harpsichord and vibrato. One is warmed by the gentle crackling of the fireplace as you hear the rain drops falling outside (both representated by the plucked strings) and you (the violin) resting by the fire sounds so peaceful (reference the poem included with the manuscript for this movement). I will not tell you the other moments, so you can discover them for yourself.

UPDATE (6-29-2009) - I discovered a recording of the Four Seasons that I like even better than Hogwoods!! It is Ottavio Dantone directing the Byzantine Academy on original instruments with Stefano Montanari play the baroque violin on a Hybrid Super Audio CD Four Seasons - This performance has incredible energy yet never gets ugly. It has incredible playing by Stefano Montanari and he never gets ugly. The recording is incredably detailed with gorgous reverberation of the church where is was recorded in 24 bit 96 kHz. The multi-channel DSD layer is incredibly detailed with the "I'm there" feeling that is a hallmark of SACD format!!"
Best version.
Aaron | 01/26/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've literally heard probably 20 versions of these concertos, we probably all have, but I think this is by far the best recordings out. I especially bought this cd for it's Spring: Largo, too often violinists, and many other instrumentalists abuse the vibrato. This artist uses is sparingly and I think it only adds to it's beauty. I also very much like how prominent the guitar is. Please buy this cd, it will renew your interest in such an overplayed album."
Sensational Seasons
Aaron | 08/14/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Like biting the perfect apple, it leaves you stunned. Dialing in the taste before you eat this common fruit, you are amazed when expectations are exceeded. Whether it is the original instruments, multiple violin soloists, or trying to envision how Vivaldi intended the Seasons to sound, the sound of this Seasons is exceptionally bright and the dramatic intensity was more than I had remembered."