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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best there is, 13 Jan. 2008
By 
Jon Chambers (Birmingham, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Vivaldi: Four Seasons & Concertos RV257, 376 & 211 (Audio CD)
Most people reading reviews of this disc are probably more interested in The Four Seasons than anything else. As the most frequently played work in the 'classical' repertoire, it has become something of a cliché. How can a new recording offer anything different? Well, Carmignola and the Venice Baroque make every effort to do so and this CD fizzes with energy. The storm in the allegro of 'Summer' really does have some clout. Carmignola's playing of the big four is virtuosic and impassioned, while the orchestra contributes massively (theirs is no mere accompaniment).The VBO always offer a multi-layered sound, recorded here in incredible detail.

But my interest lies primarily in the three world-premiere recordings also offered here. It might be imagined that these three late works are not in the same league as the concerti that precede them. This view would be completely mistaken. What is striking is that music of such quality should have been neglected for so long. (The reason why they were not published in Vivaldi's lifetime is because after 1733 he'd decided to sell manuscripts of concerti individually - at a guinea apiece, if you're interested. We're lucky most have survived.)

Although their sampling facility is exemplary, listening to the excerpts on Amazon will give only the vaguest idea of the depth and richness of sound created by Venice Baroque - the best Baroque ensemble, for my money. Music like this demands to be played on quality hi-fi equipment. The Eb concerto in particular is ravishing, life-affirming stuff. I've still no idea exactly what combination of instruments make up the sounds in the slow movement (theorbo, cello and organ is my best guess) but the result is hypnotic. RV211 and RV376 are also richly rewarding.

Altogether, this recording is essential listening. I paid full price for it in pre-Amazon days, but it has been worth every penny.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful original instruments recording, 27 Aug. 2006
By 
This review is from: Vivaldi: Four Seasons & Concertos RV257, 376 & 211 (Audio CD)
I acquired this recording in Japan among a clutch of CDs bought as an antidote to the ever-present, dismal "J-pop". I remember thinking at the time that no recording could ever beat the elderly Christopher Hogwood/Academy of Ancient Music recording of the Four Seasons I had bonded with (and left in storage, since it was ... on vinyl).

So much for that! This is marvellous stuff! The original instruments and the impeccable conducting (Andrea Marcon, also playing the harpsichord) should satisfy even the most exacting of baroque afficionados. Carmignola, as well as demonstrating his virtuosity, has managed quite a feat - a unique interpretation that is still faithful to the period but exciting at the same time. An added treat are the 3 violin concerti after the Four Seasons. Enjoy!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Signor Carmignola, I bow before thee, 27 July 2009
This review is from: Vivaldi: Four Seasons & Concertos RV257, 376 & 211 (Audio CD)
having just been to St Martin's to see vivaldi by candlelight, I was inspired to seek out reviews of the recordings out there (in the Penguin and Gramophone) guides, and this one got a top mention.

Rightly so.

Most people, even people who aren't particularly classical music fans, would recognise the four seasons, or at least some sections of it. It's not a small challenge to make it sound fresh, powerful and un-hackneyed.
Mr Carmingnola and his amazing crew rise magnificently to the occasion.

You get a sense from this mesmerising recording, that a lifetime's dedication to music and a group of great friends, very well led by Guiliano Carmingnola, a true master of the baroque violin, gave their all, had a fabulous time and got paid for it. The joy in the music making is completely evident, and what's not to like when you have virtuosity at this level. Carmignola plays as if possessed by the devil, but what precision and musicality, put simply, he's stunning. And what's even more amazing, is that as virtuoso as he is, and as fast as his tempi are in the fast parts of the fast-slow-fast format of the four seasons, his companions keep up with him, creating an unforgettable, and utterly thrilling edge-of-your seat live sounding performance.

if you like this music, and it's hard not to, it would be hard to dislike this brilliant recording of it

it has the bonus of extra concertos which if you like them, are very well played and recorded.
I have the Andrew Manze recording of the fours seasons, and as much as I love and admire it, this one edges it out, it out-panaches it even
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning the best, 1 Oct. 2009
By 
C. Weir "bach mad" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Vivaldi: Four Seasons & Concertos RV257, 376 & 211 (Audio CD)
Having listened to many versions of the years of the four seasons, this is the one that is simply stunning in every way. It is on baroque instruments which gives that edge and bite thats needed. It has a lute in the continuo which is the fashion more recently with original instrument recordings and this adds character and strength to the base line with a real sense of rhythm when called for.

The fast movements are VERY fast-something I was never sure about-but this is totally convincing and musical. The soloist and tutti articulate every note to perfection.

Never before have I heard so clearly the twittering of Spring's birds, or the dog barking in the distance, or best of all the ice skaters falling in winter.

In additional the slow movements are ravishingly and aching beautifully played-a wonderful contrast to the fast movements. Listen to the end of the slow movement of summer and how Carmignola fades quietly away yet maintaining a pure tone.

It is clear that a lot of thought has been given to interpreting the four seasons here. I cant understand how the Penguin guide misses giving this a rosette and yet does for the Accardo version which just sounds pedestrian and even missing the point.

In summary then, a much recorded work with many versions available, this one is breathtaking, beautiful and will have you listening to it over and over again. A desert island disc!
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding violin virtuosity with musicality, 13 Dec. 2001
This review is from: Vivaldi: Four Seasons & Concertos RV257, 376 & 211 (Audio CD)
We have all heard many performances of the Four
Seasons, but there is noone who can make the music
come alive like this soloist. He puts great
technical prowess at the service of the music, from the trilling birds at the start of Spring to the hair-raising slips and slides at the end of Winter.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Staggering Vivaldi!, 30 July 2012
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This review is from: Vivaldi: Four Seasons & Concertos RV257, 376 & 211 (Audio CD)
Let me say at once that I truly love and adore Baroque music, but I'm not in the least enthusiastic about "authentic period" performances played on "authentic period" instruments.

The majority of such "authentic" offerings - from Bach to Beethoven - have always struck me as being hopelessly self-conscious, pretentious and exceedingly insecure. I am convinced that J. S. Bach would have loved the modern concert grand piano and after hearing this mighty instrument bring forth the glories of his Partitas, Suites and Keyboard Concertos, he would surely have set his harpsichord alight and danced around the pyre as the flames consumed the instrument of utter mediocrity (my deepest sympathies to those who still consider the harpsichord, the lute, or the Baroque viola suitable instruments for the 21st Century concert hall)...

...Or such was my fervent belief until I purchased - with some little trepidation - this "authentic period everything" recording of Vivaldi's undisputed 17th Century masterpiece. I can honestly say that I was shocked by my own reaction: Here, finally, was a truly sublime Baraoque period instrument performance that was completely devoid of insecure self-consciousness and high-born snobbery that simply seared its way into the depths of my heart and soul!

Not to put too fine a point on it, this is staggering stuff, flying straight in the face of 70 years of Vivaldi performance tradition. In the blink of an eye, I had to redefine ALL my cherished notions of what constituted a "proper" performance of Baroque music. To say that this performance lives and breathes and exudes swaggering self assurance is only the beginning; there's real life-blood here, red and pulsating, and a sound-world that will linger on in your mind until lesser "modern instrument" recordings seem to pale and wither by comparison.

To Carmignola & Company, I simply say, "I stand corrected!"

So, here's to thinking twice about obliterating our harpsichords and trampling our lutes and violas merrily underfoot. NAY, in the hands of such masterful musicians as these, and there is more than divine musical genius at work here, the violins and violas of the Baroque cannot help but rise again from the ashes of fiery neglect.

Fervently (if not feverishly) recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best I've Ever Heard, 17 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Vivaldi: Four Seasons & Concertos RV257, 376 & 211 (Audio CD)
While I may not be an expert on the four seasons, I have listened to around 5 or 6 different takes upon Vivaldi's great compositions, I can honestly say that this is the best rendition I have ever heard. The orchestra uses a very fast and aggressive style meanwhile still maintaining the subdued sections of the pieces, which I found to be extremely pleasing to the ear. The recording quality should also be noted, as they have clearly used excellent equipment to record the performance in order to give the listener the best experience possible. Overall the whole thing reeks of quality and passion, you get the feeling that the performers have a deep love for the pieces. This album has quickly become one of my favorites, and is in my daily rotation of music. I would highly recommend this CD to everyone I know, regardless of their opinion on Classical music.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A period instrument performance of great dramatic flexibility and flaire, 3 April 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Vivaldi: Four Seasons & Concertos RV257, 376 & 211 (Audio CD)
This disc, very well recorded in 1999, features the well known Four Seasons and three not so well known violin concertos getting their first recordings here. The orchestra, founded in 1997, and specialising in Venetian music of the period is clearly a group of highly skilled musicians and are led by Andrea Marcon, also a specialist in the period. Carmignola has an enviable reputation as one of the leaders in this field of violin playing.

The booklet makes it quite clear that the emphasis upon music making from this period needs to be seen as driven by the performers who take the part of actors in a play. It is they and their performance which makes the drama or music 'live' off the page.

The result in this case is a set of the Four Seasons that takes every opportunity to respond to every dramatic suggestion in the music and in the associated verses to enliven the performance. Thus this performance is a very lively event indeed and contrasts are maximised wherever possible. This applies to speeds, phrasing and dynamics.

The three remaining violin concertos are all played with similar flair but with less contrast as the pieces are clearly less concerned with pictorial imagery than with virtuosic display as per a normal violin concerto. These three concertos are all musically interesting and receive very fine performances which make the most of the writing.

This is a very lively set of performances of the Four Seasons which could be described as vividly pictorial. They will make earlier versions with traditional instruments sound relatively lifeless and unimaginative to the point of dullness. Nevertheless there may be listeners who feel that this set goes too far just as earlier versions did not go far enough. Since this set was made there have been others cast in the same mould but which are a little less extreme but not necessarily better - or as engaging.

The period performance movement has evolved considerably over the last twenty years and now there are no reservations to be made over tuning or tone quality for example. The Italians, such as these players, have brought a whole new concept to playing music of this genre.

I would suggest that this disc is still one of the finest of its type and deserves to be considered on any short-list of candidates for the program. Most listeners, once they have got used to this type of approach, will probably find it persuasively thrilling and will never turn back to older ways.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fine performances, with a quibble on the sound, 5 Jan. 2014
By 
Stanley Crowe (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Vivaldi: Four Seasons & Concertos RV257, 376 & 211 (Audio CD)
Baroque instruments are always going to sound a bit earthier than their modern counterparts, but here the sound is so close-up that the roughness is accentuated. I prefer the sound on Rachel Podger's Channel Classics recordings. That said, the playing here is terrific, from both Carmignola and the orchestra, and if you had the idea that the Four Seasons was quintessential "wallpaper music," this disc will readjust your expectations and make you realize just how amazingly inventive Vivaldi's music is. Within what is recognizably a specific style, it's amazing how varied, and therefore engaging, the music is. Another reason to buy this CD is that it has first-time recordings of three other Vivaldi violin concertos, and soloist and orchestra bring to them the same passion and virtuosity that they bring to the more familiar Seasons. I would just add that Andrea Marcon's playing of the harpsichord in the slow movement of "Autumn" is almost worth the price of the disc. The program booklet (too much of which is puffery) says that this music is more Brueghel than Watteau. If you like that prospect -- and I do -- you'll like this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vivacious, exciting and sensuous..., 26 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Vivaldi: Four Seasons & Concertos RV257, 376 & 211 (Audio CD)
I bought this recording on the recommendation of many who have reviewed it before me and am not disappointed. In fact, the CD case has been offered a premiere place in my cabinet - centre front.

The Venice Baroque Orchestra play Vivaldi with such enthusiasm for the original score and love of its sonnet direction that they bring The Four Seasons to life like no other ensemble has before. That's my humble opinion, of course. But even with that rider, believe me when I say this is an instrumental and recording masterpiece. The players' interpretation and skill is apparent from the first bar of Spring, led beautifully by Giuliano Carmignola. (I'd not heard of this violinist before but am now in pursuit, and purchase, of his entire repertoire.)

I could wax lyrical for a few hundred words or more but still wouldn't have said anything near enough in praise. The best thing would be to buy it and see for yourself, which I certainly urge everyone to do.
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