[ Channel Classics SACD / 2 Hybrid SACD ]
Release Date: Friday 20 February 2015
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Vivaldi augmented his reputation as 'The Red Priest' with 'L'Estro Armonico', Op. 3, a collection of twelve concertos for one, two and four violins. The title of the collection encapsulates the qualities that so entranced Vivaldi's contemporaries. 'L'Estro Armonico', which might be translated as 'musical rapture', reflects the vitality and freshness of Vivaldi's invention: its rhythmic energy, melodic and harmonic intensity, textural sensuousness, performative brilliance and dramatic flair.
"These pieces are truly exhilarating to play and perform and their fresh impact never fails to hit some target or other, judging by the reaction of a live audience. Not often do you witness four violins trying to outdo each other! During Brecon Baroque's concerts preceding the recording, the rapier-like turns in musical conversations between the four parts always seemed to lead to added expectation and excitement - all the more effective because of the contrasted moments of deep melancholy which Vivaldi somehow manages to express irrespective of mode" (Rachel Podger) The dynamic ensemble Brecon Baroque was founded in 2007 by violinist and director Rachel Podger as resident ensemble at her annual Brecon Baroque Festival. The international line-up consists of some of some of the leading lights in the period instrument world. Brecon Baroque specialises in the music of J.S. Bach and his contemporaries, mostly as a one-to-a-part ensemble based on the Cafe Zimmerman ensemble which Bach himself directed. They also appear as a small baroque orchestra for Vivaldi, Telemann, Purcell and Handel.
BBC Music Magazine Awards 2016 Finalist - Concerto
'There's a sense of Podger and her players examining and analysing every note in their preparation, deciding on its role, and placing it carefully back into context, without ever disturbing the energy and integrity of the recorded performance.' Recording of the Month BBC Music April 2015
"Minimalist forces but maximum pleasure from the way in they explore every delicious detail in these 12 concertos, reacting to one another's playing with freshness and delight that's constantly engaging. It's been captured in an excellent recording...I'll be dipping into that again just for pure pleasure as soon as I can." CD Review March 2015
"these one-to-a-part performances by Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque have the heat to make your blood run faster. I don't mean heat of the hard-driven, percussive kind so often encountered today; on the contrary, line is always respected, tempos are up with the pace but never over-pushed, and the instruments are allowed to speak with warmth and humanity. There is plenty of detail, but it is natural and never fussy, and ornamentation is always clever, sometimes humorous, often delightful. Add to that technical excellence - the exactness with which the four violins articulate their semiquaver groups in the first movement of Concerto No 1, or the cutting precision of the scurrying continuo in the finale of No 3 - and a recorded balance that hits the perfect combination of blend and clarity, and you already have the ingredients for something memorable." (Gramophone Magazine Award Nomination 2015 - Baroque Instrumental)
"You can't imagine feathers getting ruffled by Rachel Podger's approach to Vivaldi. Not that it's remotely boring: as her fingers fly through the concerto 12-pack, L'Estro Armonico, your feet tap and your pulse quickens without the music being pushed to extremes. Brecon Baroque, her own ensemble, keep pace with their usual gusto... Vivaldi's notes are lively enough on their own. Four solo violins deliciously play cat and mouse. Emotional moods keep sliding around, fizz and crackle here, sombre melancholy there. Harmonies chug along with surprising twists, sowing a seed for Michael Nyman. It's true that Podger doesn't sing [with her voice]; but who misses that on this scintillating album?" (The Times)