Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (CD Review)

Geminiani: Concerto Grossi Nos. 4 and 12. Christina Day Martison, violin; Martin Pearlman, Boston Baroque. Telarc CD-80698.

It's The Four Seasons. It's the Boston Baroque. What's not to like?

Well, the question is whether this particular Four Seasons is any better than the three or four or six or eighty-six versions of Vivaldi's perennial classic you've already got in your collection. The answer is, Probably not. It's very good, mind you, and it takes its place among the best available, but there are so many different interpretations with so many configurations of players and instruments, it's hard to recommend a definitive choice.

Let's just say that this performance, played on period instruments by a relatively small group of performers, is lively and acute but never frenetic or stodgy. Some listeners, though, might prefer more conventional approaches, say, by Itzhak Perlman and the London Symphony (EMI) or by an already established best-selling chamber group like Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields or by a more straightforward period-instruments group like Pinnock and his English Concert (DG Archiv) or by a more aggressively imaginative period-instruments group like Sparf and the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble (BIS) or by a more intimate period-instruments group like Kuijken and Le Petite Bande (Sony). Lots of choices.

Nevertheless, Martin Pearlman and his Boston Baroque band are quite a lot of fun to listen to, colorful and spirited in every way; plus, they add some of their own ornamentation to several movements, which makes them a little different. What's more, Telarc engineers have captured a warm, full, wide acoustic for them, without the recording sounding in any way cavernous or tubby or foggy. There is decent clarity here, and a fine sense of presence to the music. Besides, there are two interesting fill-ups on the disc in the form of Francesco Geminiani's Concerto Grosso No. 4 and Concerto Grosso No. 12 ("Variations on La Follia") that are both quite absorbing. Maybe the disc isn't an absolute number-one choice in a Four Seasons, but it's worth a listen in any case.


1 comment:

  1. simply saying its informative, i actually heard them before , but as u said so i will definitely try the 4th one.


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Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

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For over 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me--point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

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