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GRAMOPHONE (06/2015)
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Reviewer: William Yeoman


It’s not unusual for vocalists to possess a certain instrumental facility and vice versa, or to be proficient on more than one instrument; it’s part of an all-round musical education. One would, however, have to travel very far indeed to find another musician as outrageously gifted as the Russian violinist and countertenor Dmitry Sinkovsky.


Now, before you exclaim, ‘Oh no, not another recording of The Four Seasons!’ let me reassure you, dear reader: this is something very different, and quite possibly one of the most brilliantly and imaginatively conceived and executed interpretations of this old warhorse to date. Why? First, Sinkovsky the violinist thinks like Sinkovsky the singer, and so every Dmitry Sinkovsky with his period-instrument band La Voce Strumentale: their new Vivaldi disc on Naïve features him as both violinist and countertenor phrase, every embellishment – the ornamentation is lavish, profuse and largely improvised – every change in colour, tempo (warning: strap your seatbelts on!) or volume is guided by the words of Vivaldi’s accompanying sonnets. The result is both electrifying and profound. Secondly, Sinkovsky’s own period-instrument band La Voce Strumentale boasts a very small string section, just seven players if you include the double bass, which allows not only lightning responses to Sinkovsky’s every gesture but a highly dramatic effect when the two harpsichords, harp and archlute are all brought into play at once.


The two vocal works included here are likewise characterised by a dramatic flair that is matched only by Sinkovsky’s flawless vocal technique, his mezza voce in particular a marvel in itself, and one is immediately reminded of the countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, who also so convincingly combines singing and conducting his own Ensemble Artaserse.


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