In December 1740, a notice in the Mercure de France
announced the imminent publication of six 'Sonates Violoncello Solo col Basso' by Antonio Vivaldi. He composed at least ten cello sonatas; one has vanished, but this extremely rare Paris print encompassed the greater, and much the best part of a corpus of work which might have been significantly larger than we now know.
These sonatas have been recorded fairly regularly; the catalogue features creditable versions from Pieter Wispelwey (Channel Classics) and David Watkin (Hyperion), both accomplished periodists offering much to enjoy and admire in their contrasting performances. If Wispelwey is the more mercurial, surprising and unconventional, then Watkin's more scholarly approach tends sometimes toward drabness, regardless of its authority.
Veteran Dutch authenticist Anner Bylsma, however, plays with greater imagination and fervour than either. Questions of phrasing, articulation and ornamentation will always remain largely conjectural; Bylsma's solutions are reassuringly plausible, but never pedantic in their application of received historical wisdom. Sony's fine recording is richly detailed, whilst never over-resonant, and continuo playing is discreetly effective throughout. Highly recommended.
© BBC Music Magazine 2001