Review by Windsurfer May 8, 2009 (11 of 11 found this review helpful)
|This is not for any faint of heart original instrument or PIP purists - I will begin with that! But it is an edifying and to me, thoroughly satisfying account of the famous Four Seasons with a bonus, "The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires" by Piazolla arranged for solo violin by Desyatnikov, whose Russian Seasons, Gidon Kremer recorded for Naxos several years ago.
St. John does unexpected things with the Vivaldi. The recording at least makes the orchestra appear larger at times than what the lavish booklet indicates is the "continuo" group. Maybe that is a hint! There is a lush quality to some of the string playing that bespeaks a large body of strings, but these occur only infrequently at strategic points in each movement. Similarly there is a power in the bass that sometimes startles, where bass viols double with harpsichord. Purists will quail at such devices I am sure. I loved it!
Notable is St. Johns frequent and extended absence of vibrato, with some notes beginning absent vibrato, but ending with it. Others are simply played absent vibrato. There is in some passages, again strategically chosen for effect, a marked portamento, with extraordinary ornamentation.
This is not what you normally expect when you put on a recording of the Four Seasons, or go to hear it in the concert hall. Season before last, I heard Joshua Bell and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields play this music in the Troy Music Hall. This recording is infinitely more stimulating, more interesting.
The reason I say that this is not for "faint of heart PIP purists, or purists of any sort, is that, again, for effect, St. John employs "pitch bending" at some very strategic locations. For me the effect was startling, then magical. This is an artist with a very original and creative voice. She is not afraid to defy convention to get her artistic views across. But her phrasing is exquisite throughout the entire work. Vivaldi's music has never been so descriptive! I applaud her heartily for what she has done here. This is Vivaldi for the 21st Century!
The Piazolla is entertaining if not "great" music. I enjoyed it enormously. It is an excellent companion piece to the Vivaldi.
The sound in multi-channel, doesn't have the absolutely butter smooth quality of some PentaTones or Channel Classics. But it gets the music across and that is what matters.
This is a really fine production that I can't recommend heartily enough
Was this review helpful to you?