The Avison Ensemble - Vivaldi: Concerti Opus 8 - Classics Today
During its 42-year, 17,162-performance original off-Broadway run, the Fantasticks made a lot of theatre history--and it also challenged the editors of the New Yorker's weekly theatre listings to come up with something new to say about the production after virtually everyone on earth already knew what the show was about. So, eventually they resorted to just randomly quoting lines from, oh, Shakespeare, the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, weather reports, famous novels, etc.--anything to fill the space. The time is long past to award such treatment to reviews of Vivaldi's first four Op. 8 concertos, known to virtually every living creature with intelligence above the level of a grub, as The Four Seasons. How many recordings are there in the catalog? Perhaps not yet 17,162, but we're getting there.
However, with respect for the performers and producers of this excellent recording, I must say that if you somehow have managed to amass a classical CD collection without a single copy of these concertos (shame on you!), then this set--which expands the deservedly beloved Four Seasons to include all 12 (equally deserving) Op. 8 concertos--will serve you as well or better than any other in the catalog, ideally realized by the superb period-instrument Avison Ensemble and recorded in vibrant, extraordinarily detailed sound. Solo violinist/director Pavlo Beznosiuk is as formidable--and engaging--as any virtuoso who's ever tackled these challenging pieces, and his orchestra provides consistently first-class support. And now to my real review: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..."