The Best Performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons
Octavius | United States | 10/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You have reached the peak of excellence for Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons' with this performance. The previous reviewer is right in more ways than one: Vivaldi and I Musici can certainly bring one's soul closer to God as they are both divine, but so are the Stradivarius strings played to perfection by I Musici. This rendition of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" directed by Vittorio Negri and performed by Pina Carmirelli is truly the most divine in its fluid and passionate performance. I've studied and listened to classical music for over 25 years and I have heard literally hundreds of renditions of Antonio Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." From Accardo to Zuckerman, I have not heard one rendition that even compares to this absolutely brilliant performance by I Musici and Pina Carmirelli. It is truly the clearest and most passionate performance available to date. There is no symphonic overkill that you would find with Solti or Karajan's 300-member orchestras. I Musici performs the piece to perfection with its small chamber ensemble. All of the appregios, sustenutos, etc., are clearly heard. The instruments are all period instruments and mostly Stradivarius. All therefore have a clear, sharp, incomparable sound. The performance itself is the mark of excellence for Italian Baroque and Vivaldi specifically.
Don't be deceived into buying other performances even if they have skilled violinists such as Perlman or Zuckerman. The latter are specialized in the German Romantic and klezmer traditions of violin and so tend to perform better with Northern European composers from the Romantic period such as Brahms or Wienawski but not with Italian ones generally and Italian Baroque violin pieces least of all! As for performances by great conductors and symphonies such as Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic or Solti and the Chicago/London Symphonies, the orchestral ensembles they use are generally too large for chamber pieces and most of the instruments used are modern. They are also recorded in too large of spaces so the performances sound like Beethoven's 9th instead of a chamber lyrical piece. There are other groups and recordings that are more faithful to Baroque techniques and traditional interpretations but their performances tend to suffer in their lyrical aspects and recording quality. The artists in such chamber groups generally come from academic backgrounds in traditional techniques and instruments instead of professional circles and so are more focused on applying the techniques instead of evoking from them the lyrical mood required by the piece. This results in clumsy and lifeless performances where each musician is so painfully struggling to apply the correct technique to their individual instrument that the entire piece comes out sounding as a cacophony instead of a symphony. Vivaldi was an innovative and demanding composer and this piece is one of the most difficult pieces to perform in the repertoire of music for the solo violin. I Musici have been world acclaimed leaders in performing Italian Baroque for over 50 years and have performed with many of the best musicians in this field. They emphasize more on a passionate Italian Romantic interpretation in its performances instead of a rigid Baroque one but reach a good balance with tradition by performing in the Italian style almost exclusively on Stradivarius instruments and within the size of a small Baroque chamber orchestra. The Stradivarius is the gem of traditional string instruments and really an instrument in and of itself that no other period instrument can even compare to. There are also really no chamber groups in existence that perform on so many Stradivari at once as they are simply too rare and even many professionals simply lack sufficient talent to play one proficiently. A close match with this performance is Salvatore Accardo's Stradivarius performance with I Solisti delle Settimane Musicali di Napoli. Accardo himself had already played several times with I Musici before making his legendary performance with Il Solisti. Even in terms of I Musici di Roma itself, Carmirelli's performance completely outshines those of other great recordings such as with Salvatore Accardo himself. Lastly, I Musici di Roma is also known for having some of the best sound engineering and mixing for its recordings than any other chamber group and this album is perhaps the finest example of that: the recording quality in this 1982 performance is so rich and clear for each instrument being played that you actually feel as if you are at a live performance each time you hear it.
If you feel that you have already bought a good rendition of 'The Four Seasons' and have never heard this one, I would recommend you buy it so that you may hear the difference for yourself. I you haven't yet bought 'The Four Seasons', I strongly recommend you buy this performance before all others as there's simply no comparison: you will not want to buy any other rendition after you hear this one."
This well-regarded disc has been reissued in 2006 as CD+DVD
J. West | Flower Mound, TX United States | 12/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This disc was reissued in 2006. The amazon asin is B0009ONYNC. The reissued music CD in B0009ONYNC is exactly the same 1982 recording and bit-for-bit digital copy of this disc.
This Four Seasons version by I Musici (1982 performance) and the one by Boston Symphony (1981 performance) rank as the top 2 recordings of these concertos.
This is really the best
Luca Morena | ITALY | 07/31/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stylish,professional,warm.i think there is only one best record for each music and depends on your taste, but this record bring your soul to God(if you believe) or to the soul of Vivaldi(if you believe in vivaldi).This is music!!the rest is...."