Violin Concertos “per Pisendel”:
RV 212a; RV 246; RV 370; RV 242; RV 379; RV 328
Dmitry Sinkovsky (vn, cond); Il Pomo d’Oro (period instruments)
NAÏVE 30538 (77:50)
Naïve continues its series,
Tesori del Piemonte,
with its 52nd volume, devoted to Vivaldi’s violin concertos connected with Dresden violinist Johann Georg Pisendel. The program opens with Vivaldi’s Concerto in C Major, RV 177, which, Cesare Fertonani’s notes explain, Pisendel copied “in full score.” In its first movement, Il Pomo d’Oro thunders in sharply articulated interjections, making the most of the opportunities they offer for stark dynamic contrasts. This late 20th and early 21st century manner of playing Baroque music doesn’t manifest itself, however, in desiccated textures, especially in the solo violin part, which Dmitry Sinkovsky renders, on a 1675 Francesco Ruggeri, with unmatched purity and sweetness, even in the sprightly passagework in which the movement abounds. He brings the same flowing lyricism to the slow movement before the ensemble thumps its way engagingly through the Finale’s opening tutti (after which he continues with the same emphasis on cantabile as in the first movement). The Concerto also appears in Giuliano Carmignola and Andrea Marcon’s collection of Vivaldi’s late concertos (Sony 89362,
25:2); it’s almost explosive in Il Pomo d’Oro’s collection (it opens both), but Carmignola makes more of the lyrical possibilities of the solo part.
Vivaldi wrote one of the several versions of the Concerto in D Major, “fatto per la solennità della S. Lingua di S. Antonio,” for a visit to Padua. Pisendel, according to Fertonani, made a copy, partly lost in the bombing of Dresden in 1945. Sinkovsky and the ensemble gives a lightweight, virtuosic account of the later and more frequently heard version of the first movement, giving a sparkling account of its daunting technical passages and even adding a spectacular cadenza—idiomatic, even if improvised. Sinkovsky improvises a bit in the singing slow movement as well. Soloist and ensemble give a preternaturally crisp performance of the final movement and its exciting (original) cadenza, which explores the uppermost registers of the violin. (This very cadenza, in a performance by the composer, probably gave occasion to a remark by Johann Friedrich Uffenbach that Vivaldi had played over the top of the fingerboard, providing more amazement than pleasure).
According to Fertonani, Pisendel also copied the Concerto in D Minor, RV 246, which creates an impression of greater solidity in this reading, despite Sinkovsky’s ultra-chunky articulation of the plentiful double-stops and his florid account of the slow movement’s solo part. Pisendel also copied the Concerto in B♭ Major, RV 370, which bears the subtitle, “per Pisendel.” Its first movement seems more stately, even in Sinkovsky’s and the ensemble’s reading, than anything that’s preceded it on the program. In the slow movement, they graft a strong dramatic element into Vivaldi’s original stock, not least the closing chordal interjections. The Concerto in D Minor, RV 242, also bears an explicit dedication to Pisendel; Fertonani remarks that although it appeared as the seventh concerto in op. 8, it had been written earlier. Sinkovsky and Il Pomo d’Oro make the most of its opportunities for crepuscular shadows, although some may wonder whether a chromatic slide in the slow movement provides a thoroughly idiomatic gloss on the text. Sinkovsky gives a commanding account of the finale’s bristling passages.
Pisendel copied the Concerto in B♭ Major, RV 379 (these parts have, according to Fertonani, survived in Dresden), which Vivaldi published as op. 12/5. Sinkovsky and the ensemble seem particularly genial in its gentle slow movement. The Concerto in G Minor again bears the subtitle “per Pisendel.” Fertonani mentions that it “inclines to the somber”; but, if so, that doesn’t preclude fireworks in the Finale in the ensemble’s (and soloist’s) bracing reading.
For those who prefer their Vivaldi light and crisp—if not as crunchy as breakfast cereal, at least with added fresh fruit to sweeten it—Naïve’s volume, with its clear and transparent recorded sound, may be just the way to greet the day. Strongly recommended to collectors and listeners with these particular tastes in the performance of Baroque music, and particularly of that by Vivaldi.