Rachel Podger, Brecon Baroque – Vivaldi: Le Quattro Stagioni (2018)
DSD128 (.dsf) 1 bit/5,64 MHz | Time – 01:15:29 minutes | 5,195GB
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 01:15:29 minutes | 1,31 GB
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Front Cover | © Channel Classics
After the volumes dedicated to Vivaldi’s great instrumental cycles, La Stravaganza (2004), La Cetra (2012) and L’Estro armonico (2015), English violinist Rachel Podger continues her work with her Brecon Baroque ensemble to bring out this version of the Four Seasons, which is rounded off with three violin concertos. A passionate fan of the music of Vivaldi and Biber, Rachel Podger, who studied in Germany, demonstrates through her performances just how much the Red Priest’s music (and her herself, following Biber) can cloak itself in the mysterious and bizarre, to the point that Vivaldi appears here as a distant descendant of the mannerists from the late Renaissance and early Baroque period. This is a particularly interesting and successful take.
Producer Jonathan Freeman-Attwood writes:
“Working with Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque has been an object lesson in starting anew and identifying the ingredients which make ‘Le Quattro Stagioni’ great works. Virtuosity is non-negotiable here and Rachel has it in abundance. But it’s the colour, poetry, vibrancy and evocative characterisation of weather, human warmth and fragility, captured by the dynamic flux of Rachel interlocking with her colleagues in Brecon Baroque, that deliver near-unimaginable qualities in this music”.
Among countless interpretations of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which range from modernized performances for large string orchestra to period-style versions for much leaner ensembles, there are few as pared-down as Rachel Podger’s performances with Brecon Baroque. Podger plays the virtuosic solo violin part and directs an ensemble consisting of two violins, one viola, and one cello, supported by a continuo of violone, theorbo, and harpsichord or chamber organ. This might give an impression of extreme austerity or thinness of sound, but the surprising richness of the group’s textures suggests that tonal production counts more than the number of players. While nobody knows the actual size of Vivaldi’s orchestra, and some favor the moderately large string orchestra Vivaldi conducted at the Ospedale della Pietà, he might have encountered a different size of orchestra at the court of Mantua, where he composed the Four Seasons. At any rate, Podger and her musicians produce a remarkably colorful performance, and fill out the rest of the album with three more violin concertos, Il Riposo per Il santissimo Natale, L’Amoroso, and Il Grosso Mogul, which give new listeners a chance to explore less familiar Vivaldi. Channel Classics recorded this album in St. Jude’s Church, London, and the resonant but unobtrusive acoustics contribute to the group’s vibrant sound. Highly recommended.
01 – Violin Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269 ‘La primavera’: I. Allegro
02 – Violin Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269 ‘La primavera’: II. Largo e pianissimo
03 – Violin Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269 ‘La primavera’: III. Allegro pastorale
04 – Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315 ‘L’estate’: I. Allegro mà non molto
05 – Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315 ‘L’estate’: II. Adagio
06 – Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315 ‘L’estate’: III. Presto
07 – Violin Concerto No. 3 in F major, Op. 8, RV 293 ‘L’autunno’: I. Allegro
08 – Violin Concerto No. 3 in F major, Op. 8, RV 293 ‘L’autunno’: II. Adagio molto
09 – Violin Concerto No. 3 in F major, Op. 8, RV 293 ‘L’autunno’: III. Allegro
10 – Violin Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297 ‘L’inverno’: I. Allegro non molto
11 – Violin Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297 ‘L’inverno’: II. Largo
12 – Violin Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297 ‘L’inverno’: III. Allegro
13 – Violin Concerto in E major, RV 270 ‘Il Riposo, per il Santissimo Natale’: I. Allegro
14 – Violin Concerto in E major, RV 270 ‘Il Riposo, per il Santissimo Natale’: II. Adagio
15 – Violin Concerto in E major, RV 270 ‘Il Riposo, per il Santissimo Natale’: III. Allegro
16 – Violin Concerto in E major, RV 271 ‘L’Amoroso’: I. Allegro
17 – Violin Concerto in E major, RV 271 ‘L’Amoroso’: II. Cantabile
18 – Violin Concerto in E major, RV 271 ‘L’Amoroso’: III. Allegro
19 – Violin Concerto in D major, RV 208 ‘Il Grosso Mogul’: I. Allegro
20 – Violin Concerto in D major, RV 208 ‘Il Grosso Mogul’: II. Grave – Recitativo
21 – Violin Concerto in D major, RV 208 ‘Il Grosso Mogul’: III. Allegro
Rachel Podger – violin
Johannes Pramsohler – violin
Sabine Stoffer – violin
Jane Rogers – viola
Alison McGillivray – violoncello
Jan Spencer – violone
Daniele Caminiti – theorbo
Marcin Świątkiewicz – harpsichord, chamber organ
Produced by Jonathan Freeman Attwood. Engineered by Jared Sacks.
Recorded in October 2017 at St. Judes on the Hill, Hampstead, London.