, January 2009
VIVALDI: Cello Concertos, Vol. 1 8.550907
VIVALDI: Cello Concertos, Vol. 2 8.550908
VIVALDI: Cello Concertos, Vol. 3 8.550909
VIVALDI: Cello Concertos, Vol. 4 8.550910
Vivaldi liked to write for instruments playing in the middle and lower register, favouring both the bassoon and cello (the latter a relatively new instrument in his time, having taken the place of the viola da gamba as a favoured solo instrument). Here are two highly recommendable recordings of Vivaldi’s ‘complete’ Cello Concerto; neither is quite complete, but if it is the 27 solo Concertos you are most concerned with, then Raphael Wallfisch offers them all, including the sole Double Cello Concerto, RV 531 (which Ofra Harnoy omits), and the Concerto for Cello and Bassoon, RV 409…
The Naxos series is part of a planned overall survey, and in the solo Concertos the choice of Raphael Wallfisch could hardly have been bettered. He forms an admirable partnership with the City of London Sinfonia, directed from the harpsichord or chamber organ by Nicholas Kraemer, so that, although not using period instruments, the effect is as authentic as you could want. Kraemer’s use of the organ continuo, both in tutti and to underpin the solo cello line (in RV 419, for instance), is most effective, while in Allegros the alert, resilient orchestral strings are a pleasure in themselves. Wallfisch plays with a restrained use of vibrato and a nicely judged expressive feeling, and in the Double Concerto (which he shares with Keith Harvey), there is much bustling interchange in the outer movements, with the soloists answering each other eloquently in the Largo.
Volume 3 (8.550909) is a particularly fine collection including the E minor Double Concerto, RV 409, where the solo bassoon; but Volume 4 brings a further batch of Concertos notable fro their vitality and the vigorous bravura demanded from the soloist. Throughout these four Naxos discs there is never a hint of routine; the recording is vividly realistic and the balance very well judged indeed. We originally awarded a token Rosette to Volume 3, but the accolade could surely apply to any of the four discs here which all stand up very high indeed in the Vivaldi discography.