Antonio Vivaldi is not only Venice's most famous son, but also one of the most prolific composers of the baroque period. Although he studied for the priesthood and was eventually ordained in 1703, his reputation as a consummate musician will always precede that of the altar.
His output is huge and he wrote for practically every instrument and genre known in his time. His wonderful concertos cover all the main instruments of the his period but few people know that Vivaldi wrote more concertos for solo cello than anyone else in history.
His ability on the violin was supreme and his playing on the viola d'amore evoked much praise but his cello forays were rare and discreet, and he never made a name as a cello virtuoso. Strangely enough he wrote 28 such works (and still counting) and by the year of his death in 1741, he was still composing for this instrument.
From the seven examples on this disc, though, we can safely conclude that Vivaldi had a fairly good knowledge of the cello, as he writes for it with much dexterity and expertise, and his innate feeling for the soul of the instrument had an unrivalled empathy.
The general tendency of these pieces is always for the passagework to take a back seat at the expense of the lyrical dimension, while the inventiveness and diversity of the former is still given space to evolve and expand.
Jonathan Cohen's performances are nothing short of phenomenal; his dazzling agility and artistic insight truly make the cello sing. Sarah McMahon lends her superb abilities to the full in the Double Concerto RV531, while Robert King and his King's Consort's supportive contributions are of the usual high standards we have come to expect from this ensemble. A disc to relish and enjoy in excellent sound and exemplary annotations.
Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech