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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

TOP 100 REVIEWERon 7 December 2017
The first thing to establish is that the potential listener need have no fears about either the quality of sound or the performance: both are absolutely first rate, the former rich, clear, beautifully balanced with enough space around the instruments to recreate the church recording venue (in a Polish seminary) without too much reverberance, and the latter extraordinarily virtuosic. Both the soloist, Rachel Podger, and her supporting ensemble, Arte dei Suonatori, are the kind of performers who can sway anyone resistant to period style and sound, in that although you are clearly hearing something rawer and more resinous than modern instruments, intonation and agility are flawless and their immediate, percussive quality simply enhances the impact of the music in the many Allegros, then imparts a keening, floating serenity to the Largos and Adagios. The sustained suspensions in those slow movements when the different string registers lean into each other are wonderfully tense and tantalising, making you feel , as Podger says, as if you are "hovering on a cloud".

It is of course always tempting to accuse Vivaldi of sounding predictable and formulaic; it is true that occasionally his inspiration flags and the music defaults into a "sameiness" which makes it sound like a poor cousin to the "Four Seasons", but the best is inexhaustibly inventive and invigorating. I suspect that sometimes the music is more fun to play than listen to but you won't find a better advocacy for these dozen spirited mini-concertos.

(Incidentally, this 2 CD set was rightly selected as the most recommendable version in the recent BBC Radio 3 Record Review.)
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on 17 April 2007
an absolutely smashing set that, to a degree, puts to bed the theory that Vivaldi's La Stravaganza set of concertos wasn't as good as his earlier L'Estro Armonico - OK so admittedly it wasn't, but I'm not sure there's a L'Estro Armonico performance to match this new La Stravaganza for virtuosity, taste, refinement.

It's got the togetherness and sensible approach of a really good current British performer and director, with something of the elan of a good continental orchestra, with neither the over-aggressive catchiness of a Biondi nor the four-square rhythm of Hogwood or Pinnock on their vivaldian bad days.

This new recording is probably a bit better than the classic ASMF/Marriner La Stravaganza, but that's still a wonderful recording of ASMF at their absolute best. I have both of them on my shelf now, but Podger's is probably the best. This really is wonderful music.
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on 1 April 2011
If you're fed up with the Four Seasons, this is the CD to buy. Sumptuously recorded, seductively played, this terrific music displays Vivaldi's wide range and versatility as a composer. Its hard to imagine how these performances could be improved upon. I'm a huge fan of Rachel Podger; she's so accomplished in every respect and manages to inject life and authenticity into everything she plays. Arte dei Suonatori are a lively band, one of the crack baroque ensembles from Italy currently on the scene. The quality of the recording needs to be heard to be believed: its so vivid and immediate. For vivaldi fans, this landmark recording is undoubtedly a modern classic. 6 stars!
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on 4 October 2003
A double CD of great variety and virtuosity. Podger's playing is inspired and helps to give shape and structure to these concerti. It's an electrifying performance, fizzing with excitement and passion.
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