Giovanni Antonini & Patricia Kopatchinskaja - What's Next Vivaldi? - The Times

The world isn’t short of classical albums devoted to music by Vivaldi; a skyscraper could probably be formed from recordings of The Four Seasons alone. Yet when Patricia Kopatchinskaja, that flaming free spirit of the fiddle, attacks four Vivaldi violin concertos (he wrote about 230), you know that the music-making will be special.

Playing alongside Giovanni Antonini’s group, Il Giardino Armonico, no shrinking violets themselves, she hurtles through notes with such dizzying speed and athletic force that the listener’s head starts to whirl. Doused with the storm waves in La Tempesta di Mare from Vivaldi’s op 8 set, I never needed Antonini’s added wind machine to remind me what was happening and where I was. Kopatchinskaja’s violin also drifts into an Indian swoon during the Grosso Mogul concerto, quotes a snap from Pirates of the Caribbean, and never lets the ears fall asleep. Philosophical justification for all this is supplied in a booklet quote from Nietzsche, granting artists “the right to reanimate the works of earlier times with their own souls”.

To underline that Vivaldi is a 21st-century man, not a mere porcelain bust, each concerto is interwoven with five short pieces from contemporary Italian composers, variously skittish, unearthly and sun-drenched, each with Vivaldi echoes. All are worth listening to. Yet however well played and cleverly programmed, there’s always a question hovering over fancy potpourri albums like this. Beyond the first few refreshing exposures, will you return for the complete experience, occasionally dip into the odd track or file away and move on? Only time will tell.

The Times
11 September 2020