This well recorded disc from 2013 continues the excellent Naive series of discs aimed at recording the complete works of Vivaldi held in the Turin library. That amounts to over 450 manuscripts and covers the complete range of secular, non-secular, stage and concert works written by Vivaldi and is therefore the largest single such collection in the world. This is volume 56 of the series so far.
Vivaldi, a virtuoso violinist of international repute, wrote considerable numbers of violin concertos, notable for their remarkable variety. Among these are about twenty concertos for two violins, of which six are presented here. This is volume 1 of such works so presumably there will be more to follow. Many of the works exist in other forms and written for different pairs of instruments. The most well-known double concertos, not included here, are to be found in the Opus 3 set of concerti grossi, L'Estro Armonico.
The six concertos on this disc are expertly played by Riccaro Minasi and Dmitry Sinkovsky who are also features as soloist in the single violin concertos volumes 4 and 5 respectively. Each of the two soloists takes the lead violin part in three of the current concertos. The double concertos were written between about 1711 at the time of the Opus 3 set to the 1730's, with most being written from the 1720's onwards. They are thus works of maturity and reflect Vivaldi's continuing interest in stretching the bounds of technical and creative possibilities.
All the six concertos presented here demonstrate both that technical and creative imagination with dramatic contrasts, demanding high-lying passage work and rapid figuration of a scale and arpeggio nature in the outer fast movements. There is also much use made of imitation and mirror imaging. These spectacular outer movements are contrasted with simple and peaceful central movements amounting to satisfying whole works.
Particular details of interest to give a flavour of this selection are as follows: Concerto RV510 is also known as a concerto for violin and organ (RV 766); concerto RV 509 is unusually dark in mood with a wide expressive range and with all three movements in c minor; concerto RV 517 is particularly tightly written with use of fugal ritornellos in the outer movements and where the denseness of the writing is unusually severe in effect; concerto RV515 is, by contrast, vivacious and tuneful in character.
The six works here are typical of Vivaldi's output and are full of variety despite being limited to strings. The newly formed orchestra from 2012, Il Pomo D'Oro, is an expert body of specialists and the two soloists are outstanding in their field as previously experienced in volumes 4 and 5 of the solo violin concertos.
This is a disc combining the skills and talents of two established and fine Baroque violin soloists. I would suggest that this disc is deserving of serious interest for anyone drawn to the repertoire and as such it joins such illustrious company as that provided by Carmignola and other specialist Baroque players of similar high calibre.