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Vivaldi - Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons)

Channel Classics' First Release Available on Vinyl!

Rachel Podger, Brecon Baroque

Antonio Vivaldi

SKU: 40318

Year of release: 2018

Concerto no. 1 La Primavera - Spring -op. 8 no. 1 03:24
1. Allegro Antonio Vivaldi 03:24
Concerto no. 1 La Primavera - Spring op. 8 no. 1 06:29
2. Largo e pianissimo Antonio Vivaldi 02:41
3. Allegro Antonio Vivaldi 03:48
Concerto no. 2 L'Estate - Summer - op. 8 no. 2 10:09
4. Allegro ma non molto Antonio Vivaldi 05:17
5. Adagio Antonio Vivaldi 02:01
6. Presto Antonio Vivaldi 02:50
Concerto no. 3 L'Autunno - autumn - op. 8 no. 2 10:42
7. Allegro Antonio Vivaldi 05:15
8. Adagio molto Antonio Vivaldi 02:20
9. Allegro Antonio Vivaldi 03:06
Concerto no. 4 L'Inverno - Winter - op. 8 no. 2 09:13
10. Allegro non molto Antonio Vivaldi 03:18
11. Largo Antonio Vivaldi 02:15
12. Allegro Antonio Vivaldi 03:39
Il Riposo per Il S.S. Natale RV 270 07:40
13. Allegro Antonio Vivaldi 04:06
14. Adagio Antonio Vivaldi 01:05
15. Allegro Antonio Vivaldi 02:27
Concerto L'Amoroso Rv 271 10:36
16. Allegro Antonio Vivaldi 04:31
17. Cantabile Antonio Vivaldi 02:30
18. Allegro Antonio Vivaldi 03:34
Concerto Il Grosso Mogul Rv 208 17:11
19. Allegro Antonio Vivaldi 05:37
20. Grave 0 Recitativo Antonio Vivaldi 02:53
21. Allegro Antonio Vivaldi 08:40
Total time: 75:27

About this album

Vivaldi penned more than 500 concertos. At least 214 of these are for solo violin and orchestra, but as Michael Talbot remarks, ‘scarcely a year passes without the announcement of some fresh discovery’. So what was the ‘concerto’ to Vivaldi? What about it did he love so much to have composed so many? In the decade before Vivaldi composed Le Quattro Stagioni.

Despite what this recorded collection suggests, few of Vivaldi’s instrumental works have programmatic titles. On the whole, titles gesture towards a general mood. Il Riposo and L’amoroso are examples of this indication of Affekt – indeed, both are united in their key of gleaming E major. The case of Il Grosso Mogul is stranger. There seems to be no known link between Vivaldi and the Indian court of the Grand Mughal, Akbar. The extreme virtuosity required by the soloist in the outer movements, as well as the long, fully written-out cadenzas, suggest a theatrical function. Perhaps Vivaldi performed it as a ‘theatre concerto’ as part of an opera plot set in India. French royalty, however, did play a huge role in the reception of Le Quattro Stagioni. 

Producer Jonathan Freeman-Attwood writes:

“Working with Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque has been an object lesson in starting anew and identifying the ingredients which make ‘Le Quattro Stagioni’ great works. Virtuosity is non-negotiable here and Rachel has it in abundance. But it’s the colour, poetry, vibrancy and evocative characterisation of weather, human warmth and fragility, captured by the dynamic flux of Rachel interlocking with her colleagues in Brecon Baroque, that deliver near-unimaginable qualities in this music.”

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Media

Reviews

Classica - Disc du Mois - 3 stars

Jérémie Bigorie (...) L’instrument de Rachel Podger est un modèle d’élégance, décliné en une variété de phrasés et d’ornements qui collent au plus près à la ligne mélodique. (...)

Presto Classical [Recording of the Week]

What a treat, then, to listen with fresh ears to Rachel Podger's delightfully straightforward but unstintingly imaginative new recording with Brecon Baroque.

Musicophilesblog

Avec ce disque, Rachel Podger signe sans aucun doute la nouvelle version de référence du chef d’oeuvre de Vivaldi … et sans doute pour longtemps !

Radio 4 [CD of the Week]

The listener experiences colors, a tangible translation of the weather, human warmth and vulnerability. Together with her colleagues from Brecon Baroque, Rachel delivers almost unimaginable quality in these pieces.

AllMusic

At any rate, Podger and her musicians produce a remarkably colorful performance, and fill out the rest of the album with three more violin concertos, Il Riposo per Il santissimo Natale, L'Amoroso, and Il Grosso Mogul, which give new listeners a chance to explore less familiar Vivaldi. Channel Classics recorded this album in St. Jude's Church, London, and the resonant but unobtrusive acoustics contribute to the group's vibrant sound. Highly recommended.

RevOpera

Sorry to repeat myself, but this is yet another outstanding recording by Mrs. Podger. Her ensemble, Brecon Baroque, isn’t particularly large. This conveys a nice sense of intimacy. The entire recording is extremely nuanced, subtle, but always joyful.

The Times

(…) Podger's bouncy phrasing and clarity, myriad subtleties in textures and dynamics, the kindliness of a recording that, unlike some, allows the music and its reverberations to breathe. (…) entrancing and necessary album.

The Sunday Times

(…) Rachel Podger's Midas touch makes even a warhorse such as Vivaldi's Four Seasons sound fresh-minted. She and her Brecon players see these concertos not as orchestral but as chamber music. Yet there is no lack of power in the big tuttis when the Spring dances are interrupted by downpours or the Summer storm breaks into balmier weather. This Vivaldi has an improvisatory quality, making you listen with cleansed ears.

Toccata - CD of the Month

Robert Strobl (…) erstklassiger Klangkörper und eine exzellente Solistin, die charmant und sympathisch ihren Part gestaltet. Wie schön das ist, stellt man mit jeder Minute des Zuhörens fest (…) Rache! Podger ist und bleibt die Solistin, ihr Violinspiel ist magisch und magnetisch zugleich. Aber, und das ist so entscheidend wie wichtig, sie spielt aus der Gruppe heraus! Es ist ein Oktett, welches hier agiert, jeder ist gleich wichtig. Und sehr oft lässt Rachel Podger hier ihren Freunden Raum fu?r deren Gestaltung. Das wollte Vivaldi, das wollte Rachel Podger, das will auch der Hörer! Bravi!

Record Geijutsu Magazine [JAP]

CD of the Month - (...) An exciting listening experience that is very touching.

Stereophile

(...) Why should I bother with yet another recording of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons?" you may ask. "There are already 226 entries for it at arkivmusic.com!" Because baroque violinist Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque's new, period instrument Channel Classics SACD of Le Quattro Stagioni and three other violin concertos by Vivaldi is likely the freshest, most joy-filled, and best-recorded of the bunch. (...) her sole desire, masterfully enabled by engineer Jared Sacks, is to honor the humor, invention, good spirits, and marvelous interplay of colors that have made Vivaldi's irresistibly tuneful concerto a perennial classic. (...) this native DSD production is demonstration class. (...)

De Gelderlander

Rachel Podger tries to make the music sound as if the ink dried up yesterday (...) breathtaking listening experience (...) the most beautiful interpretation of Le Quattro Stagioni in fifty years

Crescendo [JOKER]

(...) une magnifique lecture de ces saisons rabâchées, tout en finesse et dont les sonnets, écrits pourtant après coup par le vénitien, servent de base à une interprétation exacerbant les éléments descriptifs. Mais ce n’est pas pour autant, le danger est écarté, une lecture anecdotique. Tout y est musicalité et poésie, avec une souplesse qui contredit la rigidité de certaines versions « informées . Award: Crescendo JOKER 10/10/10/10

Musyka (Poland)

"Le Quattro Stagioni" by Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque sounds the most intimate of the interpretations I know. (…) Thanks to the recording art of Jared Sacks, the selective microphones B & K and Schoeps and the DSD technique, the music gained exceptional fluidity, and at the same time is rich in detail and natural reverberation. The Vivaldi: Le Quattro Stagioni album is complemented by three less popular Vivaldi concertos. A delight for an audiophile ear.

Financial Times

Rachel Podger, violinist and director of Brecon Baroque, performs the work with a select group of eight musicians, one to each part. So far from sounding spartan, this releases a freedom and buoyancy in the playing that is quite delightful.

HRAudio.net

(…) one's ear quickly adjusts to this [one instrument to a part], a decision that brings each of her trusted colleagues into the spotlight as much as the principal soloist and we are able to relish to the full the remarkable purity of the burnished sound and the colouristic opportunities offered to each instrumentalist, especially from the lute and theorbo. Needless to say Podger's peerless execution of the solo part in each concerto is beyond reproach. (…) a beautifully balanced recording (5.0 channel DSD) of unparalleled realism that perfectly recreates the fine acoustic of St. Jude's Church, London (…) a fresh, uplifting account of Vivaldi's ubiquitous masterpiece performed impeccably by one of the world's finest period violinists and recorded in state-of the art sound. What more needs to be said? >> Performance: 5 stars Sonics (Stereo): 5 stars Sonics (Multichannel): 5 stars

Opus Klassiek

(...) fenomenale articulatie, scherpe ritmische profilering, volmaakte balans en doorzichtigheid. (...)Dan is er het speelplezier dat van deze uitvoeringen afspat, soms bijna improvisatorisch en het risico niet schuwend. (...) Kort samengevat is dit een prestatie van de bovenste plank. Zo opgenomen als door Jared Sacks telt echt ieder nootje, iedere minuscule oneffenheid en hun afwezigheid zegt veel over de technische kwaliteiten van dit ensemble, maar ook over de uiteindelijke montage (beluister maar eens het openingsdeel van ‘LEstate', om daarvan een eerste representatieve indruk te krijgen). Het komt erop aan, het luistert nauw, zéér nauw! Het is alweer behoorlijk lang geleden dat Channel Classics in het sacd-formaat uitbracht, maar dit is er weer een om te koesteren: geen overdreven afbeelding in 5.0, maar duidelijk de achterliggende gedachte om ‘de natuur het werk te laten doen'. Wat heb ik genoten van deze concerten!

Diapason [Diapason d'Or]

(…) These eternal Four Seasons make us dream, smile and shudder (…) her (RP) magnificent Brecon Baroque are masters of an impressive palette. (…) To me, Podger is definitely one of the most remarkable among Vivaldi performers. (…) A vibrant dynamic, an exceptional resolution, clearly separated timbres, an airy reverb! In short, a sound that lives.

The High Arts

This is not yet another recording of the Four Seasons. More importantly, this is not your standard historically informed account. This is fresh, insightful, well-thought-out, introspective music-making of the highest order.

Gramophone [Editor's Choice]

If ever a disc were self-recommending, this is it: one of today’s most consistently brilliant Baroque violinists, records one of the era’s most famed and engaging works. Enjoy! FULL REVIEW: It feels slightly unoriginal to begin a review by quoting that old adage, 'the best things come to those who wait'. However, those words do feel especially pertinent for Rachel Podger's Vivaldi Four Seasons, which she has finally put on disc in her 50th-birthday year, joined by her superlative one-to-a-part ensemble of fellow period-instrument leading lights, Brecon Baroque. It's not just that the actual playing is superb: serene virtuoso fluency from Podger, gorgeously supported by her colleagues, with some especially fine chamber matching from violinists Johannes Pramsohler and Sabine Stoffer. It's also that this is something genuinely, effortlessly and naturally different. At the nub of this triumph is the thought that's gone into timbre and balance across the four concertos, because I've never heard their every twist and turn served up as quite the succession of changing sound worlds as appears here. Take Spring's ear-catching central Largo: while Brecon Baroque are hardly the first ensemble to place a spotlight on that barking-dog viola, it's less usual to hear the solo violin as far back as Podger has been placed, or the viola's crescendo at the end. It's then all change again for the final Allegro, Jan Spencer's violone cranking up the drone effect to especially zinging levels, complemented by the subtlest of peasanty inflections from the violins. Other notable expressive detailing include the bringing out of Daniele Caminitti's expressive theorbo-playing in Summer's opening movement, where also to be savoured are the wistful inflections with which Podger has coloured her tight trills. Also the way she stretches out the central Adagio's final top G to almost hit the dramatic final-movement thunderstorm, itself brilliantly coloured with sul ponticello effects. Then there's the soft organ and theorbo continuo underpinning Autumn's buoyant, luminously ringing first movement. Or, perhaps most glorious of all, Winter's fireside Largo: a luxuriously tactile, tranquil feast of glowing ensemble raindrops whose beauty caught me completely off guard, topped by Podger's sensitively embellished solo line. Podger and her team have been generous too, adding three further Vivaldi concertos, all of which have been realised with an equal ear to the scorings' possibilities for timbral flair. Even had they not done, though, this still would have been a Four Seasons to covet and keep.

Stretto (BE)

(...) Ondanks de vele, vele opnamen van Vivaldi’s “Jaargetijden”, betekent deze opname, door de zeer virtuoze en bovendien, solistische uitvoering, een immense meerwaarde. Subliem.

Luister [10]

(...) Een fantastische violiste met élan, verfijning, een superieure techniek,een mooie toon en intelligent inzicht in alles wat ze speelt. (...) Als u Le Quattro stagione nog niet heeft (kan dat?), is dit de aangewezen versie.

The Arts Desk

(...) this set from baroque violinist Rachel Podger and her hand-picked Brecon Baroque team is another wowzer (...) her subtle, intelligent solo playing is delicious and she's superbly accompanied (...) A gorgeous disc.

Classic FM

Album of the Week (April 23, 2018)

iClassical [Recording of the Month]

This generously filled CD contains imaginatively interpreted, superbly performed Baroque concerti of the high standard we have to come to expect from these exceptional musicians during the year in which Rachel Podger will celebrate her 50th birthday. I have no hesitation in making this disc our CD of the Month and, even if you already own one or more versions of The Four Seasons, I would urge you to go out and buy this refreshing new account.

BBC Radio 3 – Recording of the Week

It’s colourful, vivid and dramatic, yet without pushing the cinematic illustrative elements too far. (...) it’s intimate and detailed (...) wonderfully communicative with a fluidity of phrasing and ease of spontaneity and ornamentation.

Stereophile

(...) the freshest, most joy-filled, and best-recorded of the bunch. Podger, who plays with and directs her superb ensemble of eight, isn't interested in knocking you over the head with pyrotechnic wizardry or some bizarre 21st century take on Vivaldi's Top Hit of 1730. Instead, her sole desire, masterfully enabled by engineer Jared Sacks, is to honor the humor, invention, good spirits, and marvelous interplay of colors that have made Vivaldi's irresistibly tuneful concerto a perennial classic. (...) the recording puts a premium on color and space (...) optimally balances acoustic resonance with clarity of focus. (...) It's the playing, however, that puts Podger's version over the top.

Technical Specifications

SpeakersGrimm LS1
Digital To Analog ConverterMerging Horus
Mastering EngineerJared Sacks
EditingJared Sacks
Cablesvan der Hul
Mixing ConsoleRens Heijnis custom made
MicrophonesBruel & Kyaer
Recording FormatDSD256
Analog To Digital ConverterMerging Horus
Recording DateOctober 2017
Recording LocationSt. Judes on the Hill, Hampstead, London
Recording EngineerJared Sacks
ProductionJonathan Freeman Attwood