I spied this new recording several weeks ago, but waited patiently for it to perhaps arrive as a Christmas gift. I wasn't disappointed.
Both Riccardo Minasi and Dmitry Sinkovsky join Il Pomo d'Oro again, this time as dual soloists. The liner notes make mention of the fact that these concertos make more use of the two violins as two separate soloists, rather than two people playing as one. To make that more clear, the parts maintain some independence, instead of locking themselves into thirds of sixths with parallel passages. They also favor more virtuosic playing, with difficult-to-play passages and high notes.
I am a big fan of Minasi's playing, if for nothing else, his confidence. I probably enjoyed his solo CD with Pomo d'oro better than the one by Sinkovsky, but both had some good concertos to offer us. In this release, they each take turns taking the "first violin" role between concertos, if for nothing else, to keep everything "fair." That said, each one is consistently played well, and I can't say I could tell you without reading, who was who. These two artists match each other in the confidence department and are well suited as partners.
As a characteristic example, let me discuss briefly the G minor concerto, RV 517. The fast-slow-fast structure of movements is typical, I guess, as we might expect from Vivaldi. The concertos each are from compact stock, with the outer movements weighing in at 3:30 and 2:58, respectively. The middle Andante comes in at 1:24. The main theme from the first movement isn't very special, but the two violins explore a higher register than perhaps we're used to, with Vivaldi's solo concertos. The two violins grab equal footing, sometimes playing together, and sometimes playing in echo. With headphones on, each violinist is captured on either side of the stereo image. The slow movement includes just a continuo backdrop, before the full orchestra rages on in the final *Allegro*. Vivaldi inserts a variation of the descended 5th sequence for good measure, with the flavor not unlike portions of his opus 8 winter concerto. This time however, one violin's phrase is competed by the other, which of course isn't an echo effect anymore, but rather a kind of fun back and forth between soloists. I imagine this has got to be fun to play in front of an audience. The soloists add enough of their signature energy through their bowing and articulation to make it uniquely their own.
Pomo d'oro carries a lot of energy and their interpretations are far from boring. Unlike other discs by other performers, the slow movements never slowed down too far, and the energy never really drains between the outer fast movements.
Here's hoping there's more on the way with a second volume by the same players. This disc shines due to good sound engineering that doesn't place the orchestra too far away, and captures the soloists close enough center, but clearly opposite one another.