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Vivaldi: Four Seasons

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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  • Performer: Catherine Mackintosh, Alison Bury, John Holloway, Christopher Hirons
  • Orchestra: Academy of Ancient Music
  • Conductor: Christopher Hogwood
  • Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
  • Audio CD (13 July 1998)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: L'Oiseau Lyre
  • ASIN: B000004CX5
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 119,105 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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As usual......perfect service and good looking quality of the cd
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Good recording and good interpretation; however, not one of the best CDs of this work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 13 reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still One of the Best Interpretations 25 Jan. 2006
By ClassicalMusicLover - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Christopher Hogwood's interpretation and The Academy of Ancient Music's performance of Vivaldi's Four Seasons still holds it's own as the best interpretation available, even thou there are many new interpretations by new original instrument groups. Those new original instrument groups lack the luster and beautifully accurate playing of Christopher Hogwood's group. Groups such as Fabio Biondi and his Europa Galante (ASIN: B00005IA1S) or Giovanni Antonini's Il Giardino Armonico with Enrico Onofri as soloist (ASIN: B000000SPU). These two new groups have fanciful, extroverted and super fast performances which are similar to Harnoncourt's ground breaking literal interpretation with his Concentus Musicus from 1977 (ASIN: B000000SL0). Harnoncourt's was the first one to take the actual poems Vivaldi included with the manuscript and interperate the music to fit them. It's interesting how tame Harnoncourt's performance seems now compared to Biondi's and Antonini's interpretation. But the truth is, both new group's soloists sometimes sound sqeeky and the tempos are just too fast in some instances. Harnoncourt's was a little sloppy. The only recording I've heard that comes close to Hogwood is Giuliano Carmignola and the Venice Baroque Soloists on Sony (ASIN: B0000CD5H1). Carmignola truly does have a beautiful tone and an amazing command of the instrument through out the entire recording. However, Carmignola's Summer Presto sounds like a tornado instead of what it should be, a summer storm. Don't take me wrong, I really love Harnoncourt's and the newer group's recordings. Each one has it's own unique qualities, but Christopher Hogwood's recording is the one I keep coming back to. Hogwood strikes a balance between the rough sometimes unpleasant sound of the Biondi, Antonini, and Harnoncourt and the boring modern instrument interpretations (although they are starting to imitate these groups interpretations). Hogwood has just the right amount of passion without it disintegrating the performance. In fact, his performance and recording come together so well and sounds so beautiful that it creates tingles up and down my spine in many moments. Listen to the starkness of Winter in the slow movement achieved by using restrained use of the harpsichord and vibrato. One is warmed by the gentle crackling of the fireplace as you hear the rain drops falling outside (both representated by the plucked strings) and you (the violin) resting by the fire sounds so peaceful (reference the poem included with the manuscript for this movement). I will not tell you the other moments, so you can discover them for yourself.

UPDATE (6-29-2009) - I discovered a recording of the Four Seasons that I like even better than Hogwoods!! It is Ottavio Dantone directing the Byzantine Academy on original instruments with Stefano Montanari play the baroque violin on a Hybrid Super Audio CD Four Seasons - This performance has incredible energy yet never gets ugly. It has incredible playing by Stefano Montanari and he never gets ugly. The recording is incredably detailed with gorgous reverberation of the church where is was recorded in 24 bit 96 kHz. The multi-channel DSD layer is incredibly detailed with the "I'm there" feeling that is a hallmark of SACD format!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sonorous Recording Captures Vivaldi's Genius 21 Dec. 2011
By Friendly Neighbor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When I was in college at Columbia I went to the music library to listen to a dozen recordings of this most adored Baroque masterpiece. They were all full of virtuosity. Most of them were recorded in an acoustically pure environment.

This one blew me away because Catherine Mackintosh, the violin soloist for Winter, interpreted the score with all of the regret, loss, and powerlessness of mortality, all of the pain and betrayal of death. I found myself crying, uncharacteristically, and for the first time I understood why Vivaldi's ubiquitous ditty was so much more than a lovely set of catchy melodies; it was a deeply personal reflection on the human life cycle.

In the last couple of decades of listening to it, I have come to hold hear all of the interpretations of the different seasons, and to hold The Academy of Ancient Music in the highest possible esteem. True to intention, the instruments choose tone over volume, a decision which benefits from the way music is often heard today, on a sound system in one's home. You can set the volume as you like!

I am certain that anyone looking to discern all of the instruments, to relish all of the harmonies, and to project himself or herself into the period's sumptuous and intellectual music will do no better than this recording. Whenever I give Vivaldi as a gift, I always go with this recording and have often heard from the recipients that they didn't know that the Four Seasons was such a rich and profound piece of art.
5.0 out of 5 stars The version of reference for the Four Seasons 11 Mar. 2016
By Indy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This recording of the Four Seasons is actually an extract from an other album published by L'Oiseau Lyre which includes the complete concertos of Op.8. You can find the complete recording here (Vivaldi: Il Cimento dell' Armonia e dell' Inventione - 12 Concertos, Op. 8, including The Four Seasons). However, contrary to the present recording, the complete recording of Op.8 is not published anymore, so you'll have to dig on Amazon marketplace to get a version if you're interested.

Concerning the performance, this is an extract of the review I wrote for the complete concertos of Op.8:

"Christopher Hogwood was one of the first pioneers to introduce historically informed performances in England in the 70', following Nikolaus Harnoncourt's revolution that took place in the late 50'. With the Academy of Ancient Music, he published hundreds of fine recordings from different composers, with a special focus on Vivaldi. Here he presents the famous Four Seasons.

I find Hogwood's lecture of the 4 Seasons perfect. The precision of the soloists is remarkable, their ornamentation really refined, and by following the text that Vivaldi wrote along with his music, Hogwood gives meaning to each verse with a specific phrasing (the dog is barking in Spring mvt 2, the storm rages in Summer mvt 3, and Winter is really windy in mvt 1). Hogwood keeps the expressiveness of each piece without going too far as most romantic versions do, but in the meantime he gives it enough feeling so it doesn't sound mechanical like some period ensembles. The tempi are exactly as they should be, and we're far from the eccentricity of Biondi's version. It would be my favorite version, wasn't it for Andrew Parrott and the Taverner Players that I discovered after Hogwood. I just think Parrott is a little more expressive in some concertos."
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best version. 26 Jan. 2004
By Aaron - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've literally heard probably 20 versions of these concertos, we probably all have, but I think this is by far the best recordings out. I especially bought this cd for it's Spring: Largo, too often violinists, and many other instrumentalists abuse the vibrato. This artist uses is sparingly and I think it only adds to it's beauty. I also very much like how prominent the guitar is. Please buy this cd, it will renew your interest in such an overplayed album.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Vivaldi 4 Seasons Yet! 15 April 2013
By Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This recording of Vivaldi's, The Four Seasons, is my favorite and I have 3 others! Christopher Hogwood and The Academy of Ancient Music use period instruments and the recording quality is superb. It is a less orchestrated sound than most, fewer instruments - more like a Chamber Orchestra sound. In this way
It is unique and, in my opinion, superb!
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