The trend in historical performances of Vivaldi's violin concertos has been to have the violinist serve as leader of the ensemble, as would likely have happened in Vivaldi's time. But Vivaldi's music, like Bach's, contains multitudes of ideas, and one way to look at the concertos, especially the late ones heard here, is to regard them as part, and indeed as a foundation, of the virtuoso tradition that grew up over the 18th century.
If this is the future of Mozart performance practice, the future is secure. The combination of period instrument violinist Giuliano Carmignola and modern instrument conductor Claudio Abbado leading the youthful period instrument Orchestra Mozart produces something new under the sun: a hybrid of both approaches that takes the best from both and creates something fresh and shining. Carmignola, the leader of Venice's Teatro La Fenice and one of Italy's best period violinists, has a focused tone, a lively sense of rhythm, and a wonderful feeling for line and color.
Violinist Giuliano Carmignola and conductor Andrea Marcon have served up another reminder that Vivaldi, in the right hands, is so much more than sonic wallpaper. These late Vivaldi concertos, given their premiere recordings here, are, for sure, more of the same musical illustrations, birdsongs, and harmonic sequences; what stands out is the aural handling they are given by Carmignola and the Venice Baroque Orchestra under Marcon.
As long as there are violinists around like Giuliano Carmignola, classical music will never be a museum for the dead because in his hands, Mozart's Concertos are brilliantly, vibrantly, irresistibly alive. Carmignola, who later signed with Sony and then Deutsche Gramophone after these recordings were made in 1997, is a violinist with a light bow, a warm tone, an impeccable intonation and a superlative technique, all of which are needed for Mozart's effervescent Concertos. But, best of all, Carmignola has an elegant way of turning a phrase and a graceful manner of expressing the inner life of the music. With the skilled if not especially characterful il Quartettone led by Carlo de Martini, Carmignola turns in performances of Mozart Concertos which while they might not challenge the greatest recordings ever made, certainly do reconfirm the life enhancing – life affirming – qualities of the music.(James Leonard)
Recording after recording, Giuliano Carmignola, Andrea Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra have proven themselves as a winning combination. After previously triumphing in the music of Vivaldi, Carmignola discovers the almost completely forgotten repertoire of the Italian violin concerto, bridging the gap between the Baroque and Classical styles in the mid-18th century. During this time period, violin virtuosi would travel across Europe giving concerts to great acclaim. It is their music that Carmignola performs.
Italian violinist Guiliano Carmignola has a crisp, sharp style that can do wonderful things in High Baroque repertory. In Classical-period music he is again distinctive, but your mileage may vary. This release harks back to the middle days of historically informed playing, when Baroque groups first began to explore the Classical era (and music beyond). There are no graceful, gentle lines here, no warm, muted colors of mythological figures frolicking in summer sunshine.
Violinist Giuliano Carmignola and the Venice Baroque Orchestra use a slightly different scoring of Vivaldi's masterpiece, the 1996 Ricordi critical edition, and somehow unveil world premieres of three Vivaldi concertos. Their period-instrument performance of The Four Seasons is beautifully played and recorded. Andrea Marcon's conducting stretches the Adagio movements out, but the group makes up for lost time in some feverish Allegro sections.
The program begins with the most famous Vivaldi work of all, programmatic or not, the four violin concertos known as Le Quattro Stagioni or the Four Seasons. The rest of the music is much rarer.
When considering the first set of compositions designed to truly extend and test the technical limits of the violin, most would first consider the 24 Caprices of Paganini. However, more than a century before Paganini was even thought of, Italian composer Pietro Locatelli was pushing the violin to its limits with his four concertos of Opus 3, subtitled the "Art of the Violin."