Record­ing of the Month

Vi­valdi x2 La Serenis­sima

BBC Music Magazine - - Contents -

‘In the end, it’s the sheer heel-kick­ing, glad-to-be-alive ef­fer­ves­cence of the play­ing that car­ries the project’

Dou­ble Concertos for Oboes, Horns, Vi­o­lin and Cello; Con­certo for Oboe and Bas­soon La Serenis­sima/ Adrian Chan­dler (vi­o­lin) Avie AV2392 75:32 mins

From La tem­pesta di mare to Il gran mogol, Il gardellino to La note, Vi­valdi wasn’t averse to at­tach­ing eye-catch­ing ti­tles to some of his concertos. But Adrian Chan­dler has come up with the enig­matic mother of them all to round off La Serenis­sima’s lat­est dal­liance with the ‘Red Priest’: Con­certo per S.A.S.I.S.P.G.M.D.G.S.M.B. No one’s to­tally sure what the let­ters sig­nify (an abbreviated ded­i­ca­tion seems more than likely), but it’s not the only strik­ing thing about RV574. Although the disc’s rai­son d’être is to ex­plore some of the concertos for two in­stru­ments, the grand fi­nale ex­u­ber­antly brings all Chan­dler’s soloists together in a con­cer­tante ex­trav­a­ganza proudly bran­dish­ing two horns, two oboes, bas­soon, vi­o­lin and cello, not to men­tion the obli­ga­tory strings and con­tinuo. It’s a vi­va­cious con­fec­tion (if not ex­actly de­mand­ing on the ear), and the seven soloists sound pos­i­tively de­mob-happy, vy­ing with each other to un­leash the sparki­est of in­ter­jec­tions.

In the end, though, it’s the sheer heel-kick­ing, gladto-be-alive, tech­ni­cally unimpeachable ef­fer­ves­cence of the play­ing that car­ries the project, since the se­lected dou­ble concertos don’t al­ways match the ef­fort­less in­ven­tive­ness of, say, the

L’estro Ar­mon­ico col­lec­tion’s cel­e­brated A mi­nor ex­am­ple for two vi­o­lins (not in­cluded)

– a work that caught JS Bach’s ear, elic­it­ing a scin­til­lat­ing tran­scrip­tion for or­gan. Fruitily

in­ci­sive, the horn play­ing of An­neke Scott and Jo­ce­lyn Light­foot is jaw-drop­pingly to the point, (es­pe­cially in RV539 whose high tes­si­tura throws down a par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing gaunt­let); and the concertos RV535 and

536 find Rachel Chap­lin and Mark Baigent ideally matched, es­pe­cially when their oboes soul­fully en­twine in the D mi­nor Con­certo’s heart­felt sec­ond Largo – an ame­lio­rat­ing cor­rec­tive to the open­ing Largo’s stern, im­pla­ca­ble quirk­i­ness.

From a purely com­po­si­tional point of view, the most sat­is­fy­ing works are ar­guably the two for vi­o­lin and cello, concertos seem­ingly cut from a sin­gle piece of cloth. They sport An­dantes of al­most ‘galant’ sup­ple­ness – RV547’S is es­pe­cially rav­ish­ing, and a be­guil­ing ex­am­ple of the sen­si­tively imag­ined con­tinuo re­al­i­sa­tion that weaves its way through­out the disc as a whole. Pun­gently energised, the A ma­jor Con­certo’s open­ing ri­tor­nello snarls pur­pose­fully be­fore the vi­o­lin and cello an­nounce them­selves with eu­pho­nious cel­e­bra­tion ahead of an en­er­getic give and take that cor­ners into joy­ful snap, crackle and pop in the fiery fi­nale. Plau­dits, else­where, too, for Peter Whe­lan whose ir­re­press­ible bas­soon could lighten up the dark­est of rooms and quite steals the show in RV545’S solo show­case invit­ing oboe to the guest list.

Flaw­lessly paced – Chan­dler’s tem­pos are in­vari­ably ‘just so’ – ex­pertly ex­e­cuted, spa­ciously recorded, the disc con­sol­i­dates and cel­e­brates the en­sem­ble’s Vi­val­dian roots as its 25th an­niver­sary year beck­ons. Quar­ter of a cen­tury or no, La Serenis­sima’s youth­ful mojo shines brightly!


Hear ex­cerpts and a dis­cus­sion of this record­ing on the monthly BBC Mu­sic Magazine Pod­cast avail­able free on itunes or clas­si­cal-mu­

Show­ing their roots: La Serenis­sima is about to turn 25

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