Panache aplenty from a young master of the Baroque

Théotime Langlois de Swarte: Vivaldi

The Strad Issue: March 2024

Description: Panache aplenty from a young master of the Baroque

Musicians: Le Consort/Théotime Langlois de Swarte (violin)

Works: Vivaldi: Concerti per una vita; works by Legrenzi, Mouret and Westhoff

Catalogue number: HARMONIA MUNDI HMM90237374 (2 CDs)

This survey of Vivaldi’s life focuses on his violin concertos, in whole or in part, but also embraces other works relevant to its biographical intentions. Théotime Langlois de Swarte executes his soloist’s duties with technical brilliance, precision, tonal purity, imagination and period style. He revels in the virtuoso feats and special effects in RV278, 370, 583 and 267a and makes the Allegros as fleet as possible to arouse maximum excitement. He even whips up the pace further towards the end of RV813’s finale and RV315’s opening movement; and he negotiates RV315’s finale and the Allegros of RV37a and RV250 in overdrive, often with a resultant loss of bass definition. He plays the slow movements with modest vibrato, finely etched phrasing, tasteful ornamentation and a flowing sense of line, particularly the poetic Largos of RV171 and RV250 and the lilting quasi-sicilianos of RV569 and RV256.

His 1665 Stainer violin sounds sweet and lucid, especially in the high registers tapped by RV349 and the opening movements of RV256, 171 and 252. Vivid theatricality abounds, notably in ‘L’estate’ RV315 and in excerpts from Vivaldi’s operas RV709 and 714, and RV237’s reference to the bariolages of Westhoff’s Imitazione delle Campane is also highlighted.

Le Consort provides sterling support in combinations that vary from intimate – for the Sonata RV37a – to extrovert, for the Allegros of RV569, the first introduced with a horn fanfare by Mouret. The continuo group is liberally stocked, incorporating some rare instrumental timbres. The well-balanced recording has a pleasing mix of clarity and bloom.