The Avison Ensemble - Vivaldi: Concerti Opus 8 - AllvMusic
Into the most crowded field of all, that of recordings of Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons violin concertos, comes one more. This one is from the Ukrainian-British period-instrument violinist Pavlo Beznosiuk and the Avison Ensemble, a group of thirteen players based in North East England, and it does succeed in standing out from the common run. Most noticeable is the inclusion of the entire set of concertos of which the Four Seasons make up one part: published as Vivaldi's Op. 8 in 1725, the set was called 'Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione' (The Contest Between Harmony and Invention). Aside from the Four Seasons themselves they were not composed as a set, although they're certainly fine examples of Vivaldi's mature art. Beznosiuk forges detailed readings that are at their best in the Four Seasons, where even the small pictorial details in the programmatic sonnet Vivaldi (probably) provided for these concertos emerge unusually vividly. He uses a large and active continuo group, and you might sample the famed central movement of the 'Winter' Concerto (track 11) to see whether you enjoy the rather busy reading it receives here. In general, however, Beznosiuk's band is a remarkably flexible instrument. His treatment of the much-belabored plagal cadences in the first movement of the 'Spring' Concerto is remarkable: he manages to split the differences apparent in the ways other leaders accent these two chords. Beznosiuk never places the spotlight on his own violin playing, and there are places where you wish for a more active virtuoso role. But this is in the main a nimble, fresh reading of some very familiar works, and it can be recommended especially for those not down with either hyper Italian historical-instrument readings or traditional approaches.