The Strad Issue: January 2011
Description: Vibrant Vivaldi from period-performance masters
Musicians: Federico Guglielmo (violin/director) L’Arte dell’Arco
Composer: Vivaldi

These recordings, the first fruits of these performers’ extensive project involving Vivaldi’s concertos, are based on Alessandro Borin’s critical edition of the Italian composer’s third published concerto set, the six violin concertos op.6, and claimed as world-premiere recordings. Federico Guglielmo plays these works’ fast outer movements with infectious energy and joie de vivre, revelling in the high passagework and other virtuoso opportunities offered, especially in nos.5 (RV280) and 6 (RV239); but he also conveys the lyrical and expressive qualities of the slow movements with poise and rhythmic subtlety, notably the aria-like Grave of no. 1 (RV324) and the dreamy Largo of no. 2 (RV259), adorned with extempore ornamentation that is as flexible as that in the Adagio of no. 4 (RV216) seems over-calculated.

The one-player-per-part, period-instrument L’Arte dell’Arco supports with incisive, polished ensemble, notably in the robust opening movement of no.3 (RV318) and the energetic finales of nos.5 and 6. Changes are rung in the continuo department with pleasing and colourful effect. The close recording is warmly resonant. About 48 minutes of playing time may seem like short shrift, but we should be grateful for every second in the company of performers such as these.