Tuesday 21 October 2014

Vivaldi Opus 5 violin sonatas

Vivaldi Opus 5
Vivaldi Sonatas Opus 5; Baltic Baroque, Grigori Maltizov; ERP
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Oct 13 2014
Star rating: 4.0

Vivaldi's opus 5 violin sonatas in fine performances from this Baltic group

This new disc from Baltic Baroque, director Grigori Maltizov, in the Estonian Record Productions (ERP) label presents the six sonatas from Antonio Vivaldi's Opus 5, sonatas for one and two violin with basso continuo here played by violinists Maria Krestinskaya, Evgeny Sviridov and Anfisa Kalina with Reinut Tepp and Imbi Tarum (harpsichord), and Sofia Maltizov (cello), directed by Grigori Maltizov.

Vivaldi's sonatas, written in 1716, were published in Amsterdam under the rather cumbersome title of VI Sonate, Quatro a Violino Solo e Basso e due a deu Violini e Basso Continuo di Antonio Vivaldi, Opera Quinta O vero Parte Seconda del Opera Seconda, which translates as six sonatas by Antonio Vivaldi, four for violin and basso, and two for two violins and basso continuo Op4 or the second part of the preceding Op.2. The sonatas come from a busy period in his life when he was producing operas in Venice as well as liturgical works for the Pieta. But such publications of sonatas was an important part of getting a composer's name known. Vivaldi's Opus 1, published in 1705 is a collection of 12 violin sonatas, with opus 2 following in 1709. Opus 3 and 4 were collections of violin concerti and represented an important break-through for Vivaldi. Opus 5 was a follow up to the Opus 2 sonatas, and in fact the numbering of the sonatas is continuous. Those on Opus 5 start at 13. Amsterdam, where the sonatas were published, was an important European centre for publishing.

The sonatas are all three or four movement works with a prelude (generally marked Largo or Andante) followed by two or three dance movements (Corrente, Sarabanda, Giga, Gavotta, Allemanda, Menuet). All these latter movements are marked Presto or Allegro. What makes these works differ from, say, the music for violin and keyboard by Bach is that Vivaldi's are all very lively, dance based movements. They are all toe-tapping delights without any of the darker moments that Bach brings. This is music of great charm and verve.

Here it is played by the members of Baltic Baroque as part of their on-going series of Vivaldi discs on the ERP label. Inexplicably, Vivaldi's Opus 5 sonatas do not seem to have been recorded much and so this disc is doubly welcome. The violinists share the sonatas between them. Maria Krestinskaya plays Sonata 13 and 15, Anfisa Kalinina plays Sonata 14, Evgeny Sviridov plays Sonata 16 and is joined by Krestinskaya in Sonatas 17 and 18, the ones for two violins.

I did wonder whether the recorded sound might be a little to brightly forward, but the instruments are captured well and this is certainly a disc to dip into. The different sonatas were recorded at different times and in different locations in Tallinn (hence the two harpsichordists), so the acoustic varies slightly between the sonatas.

The violinists all perform with a bright forward sweet tone and superb sense of line (no bulges here). These are solo parts which very much sing. The whole group is alive to the dance element in these pieces and their performances are lively and well pointed. The result is rather infectious.

Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) - Sonata 13 for violin solo and bass in F major, RV18
 Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) - Sonata 14 for violin solo and bass in A major, RV30
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) - Sonata 15 for violin solo and bass in B flat major, RV33
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) - Sonata 16 for violin solo and bass in B minor, RV35
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) - Sonata 17 for two violins and basso continuo in B flat major RV76
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) - Sonata 18 for two violins and basso continuo in G minor RV72
Maria Krestinskaya (violin)
Evgeny Sviridov (violin)
Anfisa Kalinina (violin)
Reinut Tepp (harpsichord)
Sofia Maltizova (cello)
Imbi Tarum (harpsichord)
Grigori Maltizov (director)
Recorded 2011-2014 Tallinn
ERP7214 1 CD [44.20]

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