After recording Vivaldi's set of Violin Concertos 'La Stravaganza', Opus 4, in 2003, Rachel Podger has been immersed in music by Mozart and Bach on disc. But it has now felt right to come back to the Venetian Maestro, whose sense of drama she adores: “This time I chose his opus 9, the set of 12 Violin concertos entitled 'La Cetra'. There are plenty of jewels in this set, just as in 'La Stravaganza', with even higher technical demands made on the soloist including many, often exotic experimental effects.”
It is only recently that two seemingly unconnected names, those of Vivaldi and the viola da gamba, have been uttered in the same breath. The established, uncontested view on the matter was quite simply this: from the middle of the 17th century, the viol, which was still flourishing north of the Alps, had all but disappeared in Italy, where it had been replaced by the bass violin and, subsequently, by the cello.
La stravanganza is a set of concertos, op. 4, written by Antonio Vivaldi in 1712-1713. All of the concertos were scored for solo violin, strings, and basso continuo; however, some of the movements in the concertos require extra soloists (like a second violin solo and/or a cello solo). What is perhaps most extraordinary about "La stravaganza" is Vivaldi's remarkable inventiveness within a defined framework of instrumental and harmonic forces.
Europa Galante is one of several outstanding specialist period instrument ensembles that have come to prominence on the early music scene in the last decade. These specialist players explore and exploit the strength of their period instruments rather than being restricted by the weaknesses. On this release at their best I especially enjoyed their Concerto in B flat major, RV 383a with its exhilarating played opening Allegro. A plaintive violin solo in the Largo e cantabile features over a clock-like rhythm followed by the furiously paced and energetic closing Allegro. The inspiration is variable and the level of memorability is often limited. A good example of this is the Concerto in F major, RV 291 that opens with a frantic violin solo in a movement that outstays its welcome. The very short central Larghetto is a rather forgettable with a rhythmically determined closing Allegro that feels breathlessly frantic. (Michael Cookson)
"When listening to this CD I turned the volume up just slightly past my normal listening level, and I was rewarded with a room-filling reproduction of what I’d heard in Amsterdam. "Uitstekend!" Highly recommended." ~ClassicsToday.com