Texte paru dans: / Appeared in:
Fanfare Magazine:  36:1(09-10/2012)
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Reviewer: Robert Maxham

Violinist Riccardo Minasi and I Pomo d’Oro present seven violin concertos that Antonio Vivaldi sent to Emperor Charles VI (although perhaps, according to the Cesare Fertonani’s notes, originally composed for another patron and redirected to Charles). The Concerto in G Minor, RV 331, opens with a gesture that sounds bold even for Vivaldi and continues with bubbling figuration that looks forward to generations to come. Minasi, playing a 1627 Brothers Amati, hisses and spits to sharpen the articulation’s high definition. He creates a liquid flow of melody in the slow movement, framed by piquant string sonorities at the beginning and end, and strikes showers of sparks in the finale’s swirling passagework. Fertonani suggests that Vivaldi himself may actually have played the Concerto, RV 171, dedicated to the Imperial Catholic Majesty, in concert for the Emperor. The Concerto in B Minor, RV 391, also appears as the 12th Concerto in op. 9, “La Cetra,” and features a scordatura tuning for violin (in this case, b, d’, a’, d’’); Minasi creates extra textural effects in the first movement beyond those suggested by the tuning and produces machine-gun-like staccatos in the finale. The Concerto in E Major also appears in what Fertonani calls the “manuscript Cetra” but has also been referred to as “La Cetra II.” Minasi and the ensemble play the first movement’s suave syncopations with a sweetly melting lyricism that displays another facet of the soloist’s and ensemble’s interpretive personalities. The Concerto in G Minor, RV 327, gives the ensemble opportunities for subtle dynamic control in the first movement, soaring lyricism in the second movement (when Giuseppe Tartini objected to Vivaldi’s violinistic vocal writing he could hardly have thought of this kind of melody). The ensemble rushes headlong in the tuttis and Minasi follows with breathless figuration. The virtuosic Concerto in C Major, RV 263a (otherwise known as op. 9/4), with its three repeated hammer strokes, comes, according to Fertonani, from the first two movements of RV 263, with the finale of RV 762 tacked on. Similarly, Vivaldi assembled the Concerto, RV 181a (op. 9/1), from the first two movements of the Concerto RV 181 (played here) and the last movement of the Concerto RV 183. Minasi includes the alternative Allegro from RV 181a.

Those who find almost unvaryingly crunchy cereal indigestible may not respond to Il Pomo d’Oro’s manner—nor Minasi’s. (Further aggravating the problem for them, Minasi’s occasionally sour timbres may seem to have the wrong pH for them—as well as for the resonant recorded sound.) Most others should appreciate the variety (and the brilliant, gem-like virtuosity) that underlies this general approach and respond more warmly to its virtuosity and occasional lyricism.

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