Venice's 18th century genius
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 08/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""L'Estro Armonico" was the first of Vivaldi's well known sets of 12 concertos, the others being ""La Stravaganza" Op. 4, "Il Cimento" Op. 8 (which is the source of "The Four Seasons"), and "La Cetra" Op. 9; all of them are glorious, but "L'Estro Armonico" is a personal favorite, perhaps simply because it is the most familiar to me. It is also the one that brought Vivaldi fame in Europe when it was published.
Six of the twelve concertos were taken by J.S. Bach and transformed into harpsichord concertos (# 3, 9 and 12), organ pieces (# 8 and 11), and # 10 became a concerto for 4 four harpsichords.
Vivaldi's skill as a violinist, and his genius as a composer resulted in music that paved the way for future composers, and in many ways he was ahead of his time. Though he was celebrated in Venice for a time, his music fell from the graces of the elite, and he spent his last years in poverty...but how his music has lived on, to delight us centuries later.
Of the many concertos that I find enthralling on this 2 CD set, special to me are Concerto # 6 for solo violin, with its fabulous opening melody, and the gorgeous Concerto # 11, for two violins and cello.
The performances by Jan Tomasow, solo violin, Willi Boskowsky, 2nd violin, Richard Harand, cello, and Mario Rossi conducting the Vienna State Opera Chamber Orchestra are excellent, with lively tempi and marvelous precision.
Recorded in 1957, the "Ultra Analog" re-mastering is remarkable, giving us a nice crisp sound. Total playing time is 54'41 for Disc # 1, 65'28 for Disc # 2.