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Antonio Vivaldi: Recorder Concertos

Dan Laurin and the Bach Collegium Japan record Vivaldi, BIS CD-865. Dan Laurin and the Bach Collegium When I picked up this CD in Ann Arbor at Schoolkids Records some time ago, I had no idea who Dan Laurin was. But I did know the reputation of the Bach Collegium under Masaaki Suzuki, and picked it up for $13. It ended up being a nice appraisal of Vivaldi concertos for flute, with one per part backup by a very small Bach Collegium. The gold standard was included, which for me is RV 108, the fiesty concerto in A minor for recorder and strings. Excellent renditions already exist on disc from Musica Antiqua Köln and Il Giardino Armonico. Was this one comparable, or better? In this particular concerto, Suzuki comes forward as in so many other tracks, but here on organ. Laurin keeps up amid a wet acoustic. He's more adventurous in the slow movements with ornamentation. The orchestra, however, is a bit relaxed. This is not to say they can't play quickly, but rather, they play second role, and do so carefully and safely. Whereas in a recording by Sebastien Marq and Ensemble Mattheus the whole ensemble is on the edge of their seats, here, it is more just Suzuki and at times, Laurin puts his best foot forward. And the rest of the recording is much the same way. I much prefer, as in this recording, when one/part voicing is used for Vivaldi. While Don Antonio may have employed more strings, the transparency lent to us by single part players is wonderful. My only wish would be that the BCJ might have a more daring attitude towards their parts. They have great tact, but lack attitude. Laurin best succeeds where he plays the highest recorder, the flautino. He has a great command of this high-pitched instrument, and sounds best in those concertos employing it. For those who listen with a careful, keen ear, there is much to admire in Laurin's playing. But comparing today's best performances, we might expect more from the entire company. Vivaldi wrote with the opportunity to display great Affekt, and the dynamics of his writing fall flat with this ensemble. You can sense the energy coming from the continuo, but Suzuki lacked the the vision of dynamic and perhaps the ability to share it with the entire ensemble. We might say that the performances here are just simply a "bit straight." And there's nothing wrong with that. With more dynamically engaging performances available, we'd recommend this to the collector who might not have every work represented here, or for the fan of Laurin, BCJ, or multiple versions of Vivaldi's concerti.

Bach Missae BWV 235, BWV 234

Legrenzi et al.: Invenzioni e Stravaganze