An outstanding collaboration between Russian virtuoso violinist Viktoria Mullova and top Italian baroque band Il Giardino Armonico, in five of the most virtuoso Vivaldi violin concertos. Working together for two years before this recording was made, it's thrilling, passionate, vibrant stuff which will make you sit up and listen with fresh ears. Already awarded Gramophone Editor's Choice (July 2005) this CD looks set to garner many more awards
It's impossible to find fault with this exceptional disc by Viktoria Mullova, which should satisfy fans of authentic Baroque performance as well as of contemporary violin playing.
Mullova plays her 'Jules Falk' Stradivarius, using gut strings tuned A=415 (standard tuning is A=440) and a baroque bow, and to this adds her incredible technique and Russian-schooled musical discipline (before she defected from the Soviet Union in 1983 she was a student of the formidable and brilliant Russian violinist Leonid Kogan) to successfully fuse these two very different worlds.
The range of bowing techniques she uses in these Vivaldi concertos produces a real feast of effects. The rapid-fire cadenzas of tracks 1 and 3 (the 'Grosso Mogul' concerto) are especially stunning in this respect, as are the fantastic closing stages of track 12.
Mullova also manages to sound completely natural and uncontrived in the complicated improvisatory passages - track 2 of the same concerto is a particularly good example of this. There are moments of huge delicacy and simplicity too, as can be heard in the wistful Andante to the 'Il Favorito' concerto (track 14), and this lighter touch acts as a perfect counterbalance to the gutsier, virtuosic playing of the Allegro movements.
Throughout these concertos Il Giardino Armonico support Mullova in every way. A well-established Baroque ensemble, led by recorder player Giovanni Antonini since 1989, they produce all kinds of different tone-colours and subtle bowing effects, and their playing is consistently rhythmical and exciting even in the softer passages (listen especially to track 3 and the breathtaking track 10).
Released on the relatively new independent record label Onyx, founded by Chris Craker of Sony/BMG and Paul Moseley, this disc is recorded quite close to the performers but is perfectly judged so that all the details are easily heard. Tastefully played and recorded, you can buy this CD with confidence.
Like This? Try These:
Mozart: Violin Concertos (Viktoria Mullova)
Vivaldi: La Stravaganza (Rachel Podger)
Bach: Violin Concertos (Jaakko and Pekka Kuusisto) --Andrew McGregor
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