Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dynamism and variety

The new ATMA disc of Vivaldi concertos, to be released on Amazon on March 11, 2016, reminds us what an amazing composer Vivaldi was. I've been exploring the composer's operas and sacred music lately, and it was nice to get back to this well-chosen disc of orchestral music, with all of its dynamism and variety. There's often something dumb about a clever aphorism, and there's no dumber aphorism than Stravinsky's line (or was it Dallapiccola's?), that Vivaldi didn't write 500 concertos, but one concerto 500 times. "Very interesting," you say, like Arte Johnson in Laugh-In, "but stupid."

Some of the concertos chosen by associate conductor Mathieu Lussier are very familiar, and listening to the two concertos from the great series L'Estro Armonico, op. 3 you can see why these have been "greatest hit" material since Vivaldi's time. Indeed, I've known and loved these pieces since I first heard them on an Archiv LP in the late 60s. Mixing in more obscure pieces like the Sinfonia from the opera La Verità in Cimento brings in the opera-house excitement and anticipation of a great overture. And there are plenty of opportunities for excellent solos: oboes, bassoon, trumpets, horns and violins all have their chance to shine.

This is Mathieu Lussier's second disc in charge during the convalescence of founding conductor Bernard Labadie following his extended cancer treatment. I know Lussier best as a bassoonist and composer, and he brings soloist and compositional skills to bear in these controlled but exciting, inventive readings with the excellent Quebec musicians. I look forward to more discs from this group under Lussier and Labadie, and trust that the repertoire will be as well-chosen. And, of course, we're all pulling for a complete recovery for Maestro Labadie. 

This is fun: video from the recording session:

Here's my old LP, which was released in 1967. Archiv LPs were expensive! I treasured this disc.

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