Like most younger generation music enthusiasts, I'm sure, Vivaldi's Four Seasons played a very prominent role, in many cases serving as a portal through which many neophytes passed on their journey into the wonderful world of classical music. Even if attempted, how could one avoid it? These eternally ubiquitous concertos have seem to have been arranged for every instrument from harmonica and banjo to celesta and bass trombone and have served as the themes for countless films, including the Alan Alda picture of the same title. It's this same over exposure that would eventually turn my genuine fondness for these works into one of intense dislike. My disdain was so great that if I ever heard the concertos again it would be too soon. Enter the BBC and their weekly program "Building a Library" which featured Vivaldi's complete Op. 8, "Il Cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione" of which The Four Seasons are the first concerto. Normally I would just skip over a segment I didn't particularly care for, but I was interested in what the reviewer had to say about the other works, none of which, though popular, have ever quite achieved the status of the "Seasons." It was these works that held my attention throughout and I found the playing unbelievably intense and alive, with just the right amount of urgency to make the works sound fresh and exciting but never forced or rushed. That same afternoon, I purchased the CD and I couldn't believe what I heard. Even the "seasons" a work that I thought I could hum in my sleep, jumped off the CD and filled the room with amazing colors and a vivacity and relevance that was awe inspiring. Yes, it's incredibly fast where it needs to be, yet it's never done at the expense of the music. The music is not at the mercy of virtuoso ensemble, Europa Galante, but rather the other way around, seemingly swept away by their excitement at reshaping these war-horses into something new without distorting Vivaldi's ideas or beautiful melodies. Using a different manuscript than what is normally used, Biondi and company relish every opportunity to demonstrate just how significant these works can be. There are percussive elements and striking use of pizzicato, oboes replacing violins (as was Vivaldi's original intent) and greater prominence to the continuo. In short, this ain't your momma's Four Seasons. Even if you, like me, can't stand the thought of hearing Concerto No. 1 "Spring" ever again, give this incredible recital a chance; I guarantee you'll be blown away. By the way, the sound quality is through the roof, with striking clarity, presence and warmth.