Oh dear, what a missed opportunity. This could have been an unmissable CD, offering some rare Concerti da camera (Chamber Concertos) and at least one absolute gem for soprano. The result, however, is somewhat less than perfect.
The Concerto for recorder, oboe, 2 violins and continuo (RV87) which begins the CD is an animated and invigorating piece in which all contributors seize their moment. Especially conspicuous is the theorbo, with some resonant pizzicato adding considerable weight and colour to the continuo. The choice of chamber concerti for this disc seems to have been made on the basis of instrumentation - the other two works (RV98 and RV103) also feature flute and oboe - although, uniquely, RV103 has no part for strings. These concerti show Vivaldi in his most innovative and experimental vein.
With only nine cantatas for voice and string accompaniment to his name, Vivaldi clearly doesn't rival Bach in this sphere - but then, who does? RV682, however, Vengo a voi, luce adorate, is as beautiful as anything Bach wrote, with both Allegro arias (on either side of a short recitative) full of memorable, melodic charm. I was relishing the chance of hearing it sung on this Opus 111 label. On the only other occasion I've heard it (with Catherine Bott on L'Oiseau Lyre) the music was ruined by excessive vibrato. If possible, this version is even worse. Instrumentalists and sound technicians do their jobs impeccably. Anachronistically and ruinously, however, Laura Polverelli brings a florid, high opera style to bear upon a work that I imagine pre-dates her reading by about a century. A full-throated, warbling vibrato that sounds more like a parody than a serious recital robs the music of its attractions, and what should be the climax to the CD, therefore, is a mere turn off.