Antonio Vivaldi

Concerto for 4 violins, strings & continuo in E minor ("L'estro armonico" No. 4), Op. 3/4, RV 550

    Description by James Reel

    One of four concertos for four violins and orchestra from L'estro armonico, the E minor work finds Vivaldi alternately borrowing heavily from Corelli and Albinoni, and going his own distinct way.

    To begin with, it's cast in four movements rather than the three Vivaldi would eventually settle on. Some concertos in L'estro armonico have as many as five movements, which suggests that Vivaldi had in mind the trio sonata and concerto grosso layouts favored by Corelli and other composers of the day and earlier. The "extra" movement here comes first: an Andante, beginning with highly dramatic announcements from the full ensemble in the dotted-rhythm French manner. This gives way to a rather tense response from the soloists. Tutti and solo passages alternate, with the second solo section more florid than the first.

    The Allegro assai maintains the mood of the first movement, but now at a much faster clip, with the soloists (often singly or in pairs) presenting hectic material that sometimes is little more than flying scalar sequences. The style is very much that favored by Corelli, although the practice of giving the soloists their own individual material is more often found in the concertos of Albinoni.

    The brief, transitional Adagio, too, owes something to Corelli, although it also hints at the more mysterious passages to come in the slow sections of Vivaldi's Four Seasons, particularly the "Winter" concerto. Vivaldi finally breaks out of the Corelli mold in the concluding Allegro, although he continues to employ the Albinoni technique of presenting the soloists as individuals in subgroups. The abundance of thematic invention and the exploitation of string colors are elements that would dominate Vivaldi's later work, and set him apart from many of his contemporaries.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Andante
    2. Allegro assai
    3. Adagio
    4. Allegro

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Brilliant Classics 95200BR
    2015 Alpha ALPHA 311
    2015 Brilliant Classics 94629BR
    2015 Erato 2564619520
    2015 Channel Classics CCSSA 36515
    2014 Tacet TACET 205BDA
    2014 Smekkleysa SMK 4
    2013 Tacet TACET 205
    2013 Newton Classics 8802217
    2012 DG Archiv 4790135
    2012 Broken Audio BRAU 0432
    2011 Newton Classics 8802034
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Decca
    2010 Philips
    2009 Denon Records
    2008 Madacy Entertainment 53755
    2008 Zig Zag Territoires ZZT070902
    2008 EMI Classics
    2007 Classic Mania 93320
    2006 Decca 0004757693
    2005 Analekta 29815
    2004 Arts Music 45002
    2004 Brilliant 92389
    2003 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2003 DG Deutsche Grammophon 000005602
    2001 Disky 70682
    1999 Philips 412128
    1999 Gallo 981
    1999 Arte Nova 27772
    1998 Delta Distribution 31017
    1998 London 458078
    1997 Rivoalto 9604
    1997 Point Classics 267036
    1995 Discover 920230
    1994 Naxos 550160
    1994 London 443476
    1994 Naxos 505013
    Vanguard 66/67
    Art of Classics 885901
    Digital Concerto 713
    Madacy Entertainment 53756
    FSM Adagio 97746
    Archiv Produktion 471317
    Chandos 689
    Bongiovanni 5597/98
    Brilliant 92389/3
    Arts Music 47646