I Musici

Vivaldi: Le Quattro Stagioni

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I Musici di Roma has recorded Antonio Vivaldi's Le Quattro Stagioni several times in its distinguished history, though its 1982 recording for Philips with violinist Pina Carmirelli is perhaps the most famous and most frequently reissued. For I Musici's 60th anniversary in 2012, the ensemble returned to these concertos with violinist Antonio Anselmi taking the lead, and the historically informed performances are a fresh take on these perennial favorites. Because of their popularity, it's easy to discount the Four Seasons because they have been overplayed and over used as background music, but this splendid recording shows that they can sound fresh and exciting whenever true artists bring them to life. I Musici plays with 17th and 18th century instruments, and the sound of the string ensemble is bright and airy, with a crisp basso continuo. Dynamic has recorded the group with great spaciousness and clear separation of parts, so Vivaldi's special effects are especially vivid, such as the fluttering bird calls of La Primavera, or the icy staccato playing in L'Inverno. A 1961 recording of Benjamin Britten's Simple Symphony is provided as a bonus, though the sudden change in sound quality is noticeable, and the ensemble's brusque playing feels a bit weighty after hearing the crystalline sonorities of the Four Seasons.

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