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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous and weighty Vivaldi, 27 Jun 2012
By 
enthusiast "enthusiast" (sussex, uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Vivaldi - La Stravaganza (Audio CD)
There is something very special here.

It seems to raise these works above their own quality. When I bought this set I played it again and again. I couldn't get enough of it. I still listen to it with pleasure now but sometimes I wonder whether Podger doesn't make just a little too much of these works? OK, she can't help it that she is a great violinist, and the performances are certainly supremely musical, but I do sometimes wonder whether a slighter account of these works might fit them better. Oh well, you can't have everything.

Podger is a star of baroque violin playing but I'd love to hear her in later repertoire as well as in baroque and classical. Her playing is wonderful but it is the almost animal sound she makes ... . It is instantly recognisable and it takes your breath away.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerfully authentic with considerable musical impact, 11 Oct 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vivaldi - La Stravaganza (Audio CD)
These recordings, issued in 2003, are very powerful conceptions of these works even though they are played on 'period' instruments. The twelve concertos recorded here follow on from the excellent opus 3 set of 12 concertos that Vivaldi wrote and lead the way towards his later opus 8 set of 12 concertos of which the first four are known as The Four Seasons.

The orchestra is actually quite modest in size and consists of 7 violins plus Rachel Podger, 2 violas, 2 cellos, 1 bass and an assortment of continuo instruments, namely archlute, guitar, theorbe, harpsichord and organ (not all played at once!). There are thus just 13 regular player plus continuo, so about 15 at any one time. This is worth mentioning as the orchestra sounds considerably larger. This is partly the result of a generous acoustic and also because of the 'presence' of the recording relative to the instruments. The listener is placed near the front of the perceived listening venue.

None of the above is in any way distracting as the internal balances are good. It is simply an adjustment that the listener has to make compared to other period groups which are regularly recorded on other labels.

This particular group. Arte dei Suonatori, are clearly expert players and Rachel Podger makes an excellent soloist. The music is on a par as regards inspiration as the opus 3 and 8 sets previously mentioned although both of those sets probably contain more memorable elements which might explain their greater popularity. At the moment, competition for the opus 4 set recorded here does not really exist so this pair of discs have the field to themselves. This is a little surprising bearing in mind the quality of the music. However, any new versions will have to be very good to replace this set as the top choice.

I would therefore suggest that, in a weak field, this fine recording is unassailable. Potential purchasers interested in exploring Vivaldi's opus 4 set can therefore be confident that this set is an obvious choice to consider at present and that the purchase is likely to remain recommendable for a considerable time to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Podger is luminous, 14 Jun 2014
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vivaldi - La Stravaganza (Audio CD)
As everyone says, this recording reveals Vivaldi in a new light for those like myself who thought of him primarily as a 4-concerto composer. In fact these pieces are also wonderful, full of light and air, and marvellously played by Arte dei Suonatori and Rachel Podger. Having heard her last week in the Spitalfields Festival with a different group I feel as if exposed to some new benevolent musical sun, her musicality and communicative ardour are so joyous. She can also sound a note of poignant lyricism, even plangency, in say the Grave et sempre piano of Concerto no. 4, which she follows with thrilling fast playing both from her and the orchestra. Part of the exquisite effect comes from the sound of the recording, made in a Polish church, that allows clarity as well as vibrant atmosphere. It is maximally present without ever being clinical, big but never heavy. This may also have to do with the use of two plucked instruments among the 15-piece band, which also includes organ or harpsichord. The effect couldn't be more pleasing of the ear, so that you enter a world of perfection akin to certain Dutch still life paintings, but with added movement.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best Vivaldi concerto recording I've ever heard, 20 Aug 2013
By 
Stanley Crowe (Greenville, SC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Vivaldi - La Stravaganza (Audio CD)
"Extreme inventiveness within a definite framework." So says Rachel Podger of this music, and she's right. You can play through these twelve concertos at a sitting and not feel at all that it's "all the same." If you don't believe me, just play the slow movements of the Nos. 10, 11, and 12. No more need be said. And Podger's playing is simply beyond praise. She deserves mention with, and perhaps in some cases surpasses, the achievements of golden girls like Hilary Hahn, Janine Jansen, and Julia Fischer. She seems to be playing with complete abandon, and yet, for all the energy in those allegros, there is never a sense of loss of control. Some of the credit for this goes to her accompanying band -- L'Arte Dei Suonatori, a Polish baroque group who are masters of their original instruments. Without the smoothness of the modern instruments, they show none of the rawness and tentativeness of some of the earlier original instrument bands. They play with force and passion and expressiveness, and Vivaldi's writing for them in this set of concertos is amazingly rich and diverse. They can do percussive effects and even wind-like effects, and their lute and guitar work is superb, and is sometimes hauntingly brought in to sparely accompany the soloist. The Channel Classics sound is very present -- I cut down my volume quite a bit -- but it's not cramped, and Podger's violin is placed perfectly in relation to it. I enjoyed the old ASMF Vivaldi sets from Decca, with Marriner and Iona Brown, back in the '60s and '70s. But this is on a different level of music making.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely phenomenal., 15 May 2014
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This review is from: Vivaldi - La Stravaganza (Audio CD)
I have this record in SACD format, and it is one of the best multichannel recordings I have. When I demonstrate my multi channel system, this is the first record I play. Absolutely phenomenal.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done Rachel, 8 Oct 2011
This review is from: Vivaldi - La Stravaganza (Audio CD)
The "La Stravaganza" is a set of twelve beautiful concertos written by Antonio Vivaldi as Opus 4. Rachel`s violin is a 1739 Pesarinius Genoa whilst all the other seven violins are 1 seventeenth century ,3 eighteenth and 3 nineteenth.The other eleven instruments being relatively modern . The sound quality on this double CD is perfect ,as would be expected of Chandos, and overall this is a good value collection.Whilst not as played as often as The Four Seasons this set of Vivaldi`s concertos certainly does not disappoint the listener. Highly Recommended.
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Vivaldi - La Stravaganza
Vivaldi - La Stravaganza by Rachel Podger (Audio CD - 2006)
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