Vivaldi’s Seasons in a new setting proves a mixed bag

Luka Faulisi: Vivaldi, Boulanger (arr.Spindler), Tchaikovsky, Trad

The Strad Issue: June 2024

Description: Vivaldi’s Seasons in a new setting proves a mixed bag

Musicians: Luka Faulisi (violin) Orkiestra Historyczna/Martyna Pasturzka

Works: Boulanger: Nocturne (arr.Spindler). Tchaikovsky: The Seasons: October (arr.Spindler). Trad: El cant dels ocells (Song of the Birds) (arr.Spindler). Vivaldi: The Four Seasons op.8 nos.1–4

Catalogue number: SONY CLASSICAL 19658843872

Luka Faulisi is undoubtedly a young virtuoso of high calibre, as evidenced by his debut disc Aria (reviewed in March 2023). This follow-up, in which he attempts to deromanticise his playing style in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and align it more with historical performance practices, takes him out of his comfort zone and only partially succeeds. Some of the bow strokes employed and the breakneck speeds with which he takes most of the fast sections of Vivaldi’s concertos are more akin to his virtuoso leanings. Moreover, the gimmickry, percussive and other quasi-cinematic liberties that he and his colleagues utilise to reproduce some of the extra-musical content described in the sonnets accompanying Vivaldi’s concertos seem totally incompatible with those deromanticising aims; contrarily, his extempore ornamentation is somewhat restrained and unconvincing.

His inclusion, though, of additional repertoire with a focus largely on nature, does allow him to stand out among the plethora of Four Seasons. Faulisi’s accounts of Matthias Spindler’s skilful arrangements, sandwiched between each concerto, make for more agreeable listening. He gives a heartfelt reading of the lyrical Catalan melody El cant dels ocells, made famous by Casals, and exhibits lyrical sensibility in Tchaikovsky’s melancholic ‘October’, even if a more relaxed rendition of Lili Boulanger’s Nocturne might be desirable. Sony’s engineering is exemplary.