This is the fourth release by the BBC Philharmonic under its Chief Conductor, Juanjo Mena, and the discography is going from strength to strength – their recording of orchestral works by Falla was ‘Recording on the Month’ in BBC Music. They are joined on this recording by the bassoonist Karen Geoghegan.
Stemming from the same fertile compositional period as the majority of his clarinet works, composer Carl Maria von Weber was also hard at work penning two symphonies (in fact, his only two forays into this genre) and his lone Concerto for bassoon and orchestra. Though written only a few short years after Beethoven's revolutionary Third Symphony, Weber seems little interested in innovation apart from his use of scherzos in place of minuets. Rather, these two early works are more Haydn-esque in their melodies and accompaniment, and Mozartian in their frequent use of wind concertante parts. (Mike D. Brownell)
The task of picking "essential masterpieces" for a big-box collection like this is essentially futile. Sure, one could complain that restricting the vocal music to the two Gloria settings distorts Vivaldi's output severely, but any selection would cause complaints - and the compilers could point out that it was instrumental concertos that made Vivaldi popular and instrumental concertos on which his popularity rests. Furthermore, the recordings featured here, mostly by the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, are, in many cases, those that turned Vivaldi into an industry - they were the backbone of programming on NPR, the BBC, and their counterparts in other countries for years.
It would be no exaggeration to name Antonio Vivaldi as the “pioneer of the bassoon concerto”. The first milestone in the emancipation of the bassoon, until the beginning of the 17 century exclusively used as a basso continuo instrument, for which the part wasn’t even written out, was a series of nine virtuoso bassoon sonatas published by Giovanni Antonio Bertoli in 1645.
The popular Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment presents a fantastic and exuberantly played selection of Vivaldi. Named a ‘Choice' recording by Gramophone upon release, the OAE joyfully celebrate some of Vivaldi's finest instrumental writing. The soloists are drawn from within the distinguished ranks of the OAE including Anthony Robson (oboe), Andrew Clark (horn), Roger Montgomery (horn), David Watkin (cello), Lisa Beznosiuk (flute), Elizabeth Kenny (lute) and Catherine Mackintosh (viola). The concertos assembled on this disc afford the listener a glimpse of Vivaldi's originality, not only as a sensitive colourist and master of form, but also as a felicitous melodist whose harmonies and phraseology are charged with heady atmosphere. The dancing rhythms and distinctive characters of these concerti together with the variety of instrumental combinations and sparkling performances make this a fresh and constantly engaging listen.