Concerto Veneziano (SACD review)

Giuliano Carmignola, violin; Andrea Marcon, Venice Baroque Orchestra. Archiv SACD 00289 474 8952.

Absolutely splendid sound and performances drive this collection of Baroque works straight to the top not only of the recording pile, but to the top of the Baroque pile, the top of the classical-music pile, and the top of the music-in-general pile. Even though it's been around for a while, you may have missed it; thus, the reminder.

We've got a combination of assets working here. First, there is the selection of violin concertos from stalwart Baroque composers Antonio Vivaldi, Pietro Locatelli, and Giuseppi Tartini. The various works included (Vivaldi's RV 583 and RV 278; Locatelli's Concerto for Violin in G major; and Tartini's Concerto for Violin, Strings and Continuo in A major) are not as familiar as some others by these men and, therefore, come off sounding somewhat new.

Andrea Marcon
Second, violinist Giuliano Carmignola and the Venice Baroque Orchestra play the pieces with a fresh vigor and spontaneity that communicate smoothly and easily to the senses. Their interpretations sound relaxed without being lax, vigorous without being overbearing. They simply appear graceful, spontaneous, well judged, and well executed, which is as much as I, at least, could reasonably expect from this music without the scores sounding distorted for the sake of eccentricity.

And, third, the sonics are about as good as it comes. DG released it on their Archiv label in April 2005, and it remains one of the best of its kind. There is a breadth and depth to the ensemble more than amply reproduced by Archiv's fully compatible (hybrid CD/SACD) SACD recording. Although the number of players is relatively small and, therefore, one would expect a good degree of transparency to the sound, we also get here a good deal of warmth, resonance, and natural hall ambiance. The result puts the listener closer to the actual orchestral experience than we would normally get in a period-instrument performance, where sometimes a hard, dry, brittle sound seems the norm.

It's hard to argue with the music, the performances, or the sound of this impressive entry from Carmignola, Marcon, and company.


To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click here:

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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

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.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa