American Record Guide
, July 2011
VIVALDI, A.: Concertos and Sonatas, Opp. 1-12 (Complete) (I Musici) NC8802034
VIVALDI, A.: Sacred Music (John Aldis Choir, Negri) NC8802045
The first two releases listed here belong in the second Modern Instrument category. These boxed sets ought to be heralded with much joy, as they effectively bring to an end the on-again, off-again availability of these wonderful Philips recordings. This very large set, available for about $100, brings these recordings together for the first time in one box on CD, though a smaller portion has been available from Philips from time to time.
The dates of these recordings range from 1959 to 1977, most of them having been made from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. It’s important to note that this set includes only the complete Opuses 1-12, which do not have the cello, oboe, and bassoon concertos, to say nothing of some of the delightful concertos for mixed instruments. If you want to explore Vivaldi and you need a good place to begin, this set is for you. If you want some of the best modern instrument Vivaldi recordings ever made, this is for you. If you want to build a complete Vivaldi collection (in the sense of making sure you have at least one copy of all his recorded works), this set is for you.
This is even truer of the set of Vivaldi’s sacred music. It isn’t complete, but it has the major works—the complete set from Hyperion has 11 discs as opposed to the 7 here. I did happen to grab this set a number of years ago when Philips re-released it briefly, and I have listened to it a lot. These are extremely solid, lively, and engaging performances of Vivaldi’s best sacred pieces, including the best-loved Gloria (R 589), the other Gloria, several Psalms, a few Credos, and three Salve Reginas. One of the major works missing is the Stabat Mater, which is profound and moving. I would not want to be without the complete Hyperion set, which is period instrument, but the current release is a good start. It, too, is inexpensive: about $40.