Various Artists

The Best Vivaldi [Best Buy Exclusive]

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This isn't really the best of anything, but it's an acceptable example of good recycling practices. Many other recordings of these famous Vivaldi works are more vivid, more commanding when it comes to the instrumental soloists, closer to what Vivaldi had in mind, or all three. Yet it's hard to be too hard on the 1960s performances collected here, for they're the ones through which people of a certain age learned to love Vivaldi. Back when public radio stations were not just chasing ratings with their own teams of talking heads, I Solisti di Zagreb and its energetic Italian-born conductor, Antonio Janigro (who ended up in Yugoslavia because he was stranded there on vacation when World War II broke out), were staples of the FM dial. The group's performances of the Four Seasons violin concertos and of the other very famous concertos included here are brisk without being brusque, lyrical without being soupy, and reasonably idiomatic for performances using modern instruments. They have been poorly remastered, and they sound harsher than they used to, even on the squeakbox record player you may have had when they first came out. But for drive-time listening, which may well be the primary market for this disc, you could do a lot worse.

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