This Naxos double CD is effectively a reworking of the original single CD release `The Best of Vivaldi', expanded to include more of the composer's music then attractively packaged with new artwork and a card slip-case cover showing an amusing caricature of the composer.
As with any `Best Of' compilation much of the composer's work will inevitably be omitted. Vivaldi wrote more than 800 pieces during his lifetime, making him one of the most prolific composers of the baroque era. The 25 tracks on this 2 CD set give a good, albeit abbreviated, two and a half hours of Vivaldi's most popular and best works.
Most popular, and obviously included, are (parts of) `The Four Seasons' and `Gloria' but the real value of this collection is in it's representation, again only in brief excepts due to time restrictions, of Vivaldi's almost unique skill of composing concertos for a wide variety of instruments. Included are concertos for violin, flute, cello, strings, bassoon, trumpet, recorder, mandolin and oboe.
Included also is the beautiful aria `Nullo in Mundo Pax' (In this world there is no peace) which in my opinion is one of the finest and most beautiful of baroque arias. Not the best version in my collection, but its so pleasing to hear the full 8 minutes rather than the brief excerpt played so often in commercials.
The sleeve notes are helpful for those wanting a little more than these highlights, for they provide recommended further listening (all Naxos label CD's of course!). But for those who do not wish to delve any deeper and are content with these types of collections there are a number of other Naxos `Very Best Of' releases featuring other composers, which together can form the basis of a respectable and reasonably comprehensive classical music CD library.
In summary, an informative and attractively presented mid priced CD which provides an excellent introduction to Vivaldi.
(The complete Naxos `Very best Of' series features Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Dvorak, Elgar, Grieg, Handel, Mozart, Puccini, Rachmaninov, Ravel, Satie, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Strauss (Johann) II, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Vivaldi).