Search - Antonio Vivaldi, Andrew Manze, English Concert :: Vivaldi: Concertos for the Emperor [Hybrid SACD]

Vivaldi: Concertos for the Emperor [Hybrid SACD]
Antonio Vivaldi, Andrew Manze, English Concert
Vivaldi: Concertos for the Emperor [Hybrid SACD]
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Antonio Vivaldi, Andrew Manze, English Concert
Title: Vivaldi: Concertos for the Emperor [Hybrid SACD]
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
Release Date: 11/9/2004
Album Type: Hybrid SACD - DSD, Import
Genre: Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Forms & Genres, Concertos, Historical Periods, Baroque (c.1600-1750), Classical (c.1770-1830), Instruments, Strings
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 093046733261

CD Reviews

An improvement over his Bach Concerti CD
J. Poss | Pahrump, Nevada | 04/15/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"BAROQUE VIOLIN SOLO EXECUTION: I really want to like Andrew Manze's playing. He looks quirky and nerdy like me; however, I've found myself being consistently disappointed by his interpretation and execution of baroque music. In this recording, as I did in his Bach violin concerto CD (ASIN: B00000IL4A)(Bach: Solo & Double Violin Concertos /Manze * Podger * AAM * Manze), I found his playing inconsistent, thin and unattractive, especially during the pianissimo passages. However, this CD is an improvement of the Bach Concerti CD. His overall tone is still not beautiful as it should be. I love the tone that other period violinist have achieved like Jaap Schroeder, Monica Huggett, Simon Standage, Sigiswald Kuijken, Elizabeth Wallfisch, Chiara Banchini, Fabio Biondi, Stefano Montanari, Enrico Onofri, Giuliano Carmignola, and Rachel Podger. There is no doubt that Andrew Manze has excellent technical skills for super fast and difficult passage work. What I feel Andrew Manze really needs is to work on is his beauty of tone and intonation because it's just lacking in comparison to these other artists mentioned above.

THE INTERPRETATION: Now let's talk about his interpretation as the leader of the English Concert. The only word I can come up with to describe these interpretations is dispassionate. As an example, I urge you to compare Fabio Biondi's performance of the Concerto in c, RV202 (CD label: Opus 111 OPS 2-9004) Vivaldi: String Concertos / Biondi. Available in a re-issue here: Vivaldi: Concerti). Biondi's interpretation is bolder, full-blooded, robust and PASSIONATE!! His leadership of the Europa Galante orchestra is inspired, inventive, and totally convincing, yet delicate when needed. Now, when I go back to Andrew Manze's performance, Andrew's shortcomings show more pronounced, his performance is rather boring. If Andrew's tone was beautiful and shaped well I might be able to warm up to his playing, but his tone simple sounds thin and unattractive and he has pitch problems at times. Alas, his interpretations with the English Concert are uninspired and lukewarm. You can also compare a performance of concerto RV 277 "Il favorito" by the Academy of Ancient Music with Christopher Hogwood directing (CD Label: L'Oiseau-Lyre{Decca} 436 172-2)(Antonio Vivaldi: 6 Concerti Op. 11). Even the generally cool Christopher Hogwood, with Stanley Ritchie as soloist, manages to give a more passionate and convincing interpretation of "Il favorite" than Manze.
However, I did like Manze's interpretation of "L'amoroso". In this concerto Manze has decided, based on the title of the work, "L'amoroso" (The lover) and the fact that Vivaldi has occasionally called for mutes on the strings, such as in "Il riposo", RV 270 that he thought using mutes for the entire concerto was a good idea. He also uses the lover's instrument for continuo, the guitar. It does work and makes for a uniquely delicate interpretation, however, lovers can be PASSIONATE too not just delicate!!! So I think removing the mutes for the final movement would have been appropriate. Now let's look at Pinnock's performance of the same concerto with Standage's performance with the English Concert under the great Trevor Pinnock of 22 years ago (Still available from Amazon: Vivaldi: Concerti "L'Amoroso"). What a beautifully passionate performance and so well recorded (it was recorded in St. John's Smith Square in 1986 and has a nice ambiance). Simon Standage playing is slightly more poetic and beautiful compared to Andrew Manze's. I like both interpretations of this concerto.

Overall, I rate the Manze performances 3 stars on this SACD.

THE RECORDING: In this world of Hybrid Super Audio CDs where you pay higher prices, you really expect the recording to be exceptional. The sound is good with the English Concert sounding lush but it's not as good as it could be. Here they have used a somewhat distant microphone technique which does not reveal as much detail and depth compared to other period baroque SACD recordings. The recording location has little reverberation (they used Air Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, London) which makes for a generally dead recording, acoustically. They would have done much better if they used a church venue. There is good balance between the soloist and orchestra this time compared to his Bach Concerti CD of 1999. I listened to the multi-channel SACD layer of the disc in a 5.1 speaker setup. Overall I rate the SACD recording quality 3 1/2 stars.

CONCLUSION: I do give Harmonia Mundi an A+ for the booklet production and essay. Overall, this SACD is an improvement over Andrew Manze's Bach Violin Concerti CD from 1999(Bach: Solo & Double Violin Concertos /Manze * Podger * AAM * Manze), but he still could do better. 3 1/4 stars.

SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER LISTENING: If you want to hear Vivaldi's music in a wonderfully passionate committed performance AND an amazing demonstration quality recording on a Hybrid multi-channel SACD get Vivaldi's Four Seasons on the ARTS label (47565-8) with Stefano Montanari, solo violin and the Accademia Bizantina directed by Ottavio Dantone. I only found it to be available from Amazon United Kingdom (search for the ASIN Number: B000VM0AHU on Amazon United Kingdom site (note: there is a link to the Amazon United Kingdom website at the bottom of all Amazon pages). It will cost you a little bit more than if Amazon USA had it. It's really a shame that this superb Hybrid SACD of Vivaldi's most famous work on period instruments is not available on Amazon USA!!! Yes, it is a Hybrid SACD which plays on all CD players and SACD players.
Also, if you want to compare Manze with the great Carmignola in a very rear Vivaldi concerto, "The Cuckoo" concerto RV 335 take a look at Manze ASIN: B00004U5BE (Link: Vivaldi - Violin Concerto, op. 6 (Concerto "The Cuckoo") / Manze · AAM · Hogwood) and Carmignola's slightly different version RV335a ASIN: B00004GP1Y Link: Vivaldi: Nature Concertos) Note that they use 2 different versions of the same concerto. Carmignola's performance sounds fresh and alive and is inspired and more passionate than Manze. It looks as if Carmignola has combined the violin and organ solo all into the violin solo part and the results are amazing. I do like Hogwood/Manze version with organ but not as much as Carmignola's version.