The Strad Issue: January 2011
Description: A well-planned Vivaldi concert with spectacular results
Musicians: Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello) Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Georg Kallweit
Composer: Vivaldi, Caldara

The remarkable cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras intends this disc to be savoured in its entirety like a concert. Accordingly he has planned a programme that takes account of the different keys of individual works and intersperses concertos with orchestral sinfonias, including a couple by Vivaldi’s contemporary Antonio Caldara, which maximise the contrasts of structure as well as timbre. His partner in this ambient recording is the resplendent Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, whose players offer rhythmically vital and spontaneously vivid performances. Queyras himself is equally sparkling in his virtuosic and stylish renditions of these works. His mapping of long crescendos and perception of tonal schemes through each movement are keenly intelligent.

In the booklet notes Queyras admits to being very indebted to Anner Bylsma in terms of period-performance techniques and he has taken from him a natural concept of embellishment and shaping of phrases, evident, for example, in the Adagio of the G minor Concerto, where his fluidity of line is almost vocal and marvellously partnered by the lute. Among other highlights on this spectacular disc is an E minor Cello Concerto with solo bassoon whose first movement, juxtaposing slow passages for the soloists with fast and furious responses from the orchestra, is remarkably original, while Queyras draws proceedings to an exciting close with blisteringly rhythmic drive in the finale of the A minor Concerto.

Joanne Talbot