Rachel Podger / Brecon Baroque

Vivaldi: L’Estro Armonico

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Vivaldi's L'estro armonico ("Harmonic Inspiration"), a set of 12 concertos for various forces of stringed instruments with a small string orchestra, was among the favorites of the groups that really kicked off the Baroque music revival in the 1950s and 1960s, and no stereophile living room was complete without a set. It may thus be enjoyable for listeners of a certain age to hear how things have changed. Various soloists appear, but the performance is very much the work of British historical-performance violinist Rachel Podger, who, as usual, serves as director as well. This time, in contrast to some of her recorded work, she plays with her own handpicked group Brecon Baroque, and on top of this some of the other soloists are her students. This adds up to performances of unusual cohesiveness and precision. Podger's style, both in solos and in the orchestral work, is crunchy and cutting, and she emphasizes the inner lines of the music rather than the melodic lines. There may, as a result, be places where listeners wish for a bit more sentiment, but in passages like the massed overlapping lines of the Concerto No. 8 in A minor for two violins, strings, and continuo, the effect is electrifying. There's no denying the remarkable level of ensemble precision and tension throughout, and even if the performance is not to some particular tastes, this is still worth checking out, especially for those who haven't heard L'estro armonico for a while.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Concerto No. 1 in D major, for four violins, violoncello, strings and continuo, RV 549
1 3:01
2 2:14
3 2:32
Concerto No. 2 in G minor, for two violins, violoncello, strings and continuo, RV 578
4 3:49
5 2:40
6 2:36
Concerto No. 3 in G major, for violin, strings and continuo, RV 310
7 2:17
8 2:09
9 2:20
Concerto No. 4 in E minor, for four violins, strings and continuo, RV 550
10 1:44
11 2:15
12 2:41
Concerto No. 5 in A major, for two violins, strings and continuo, RV 519
13 2:53
14 1:24
15 2:56
Concerto No. 6 in A minor, for violin, strings and continuo, RV 356
16 2:56
17 1:54
18 2:30

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Concerto No. 7 in F major, for four violins, strings and continuo, RV 567
1 2:25
2 1:12
3 4:44
Concerto No. 8 in A minor, for two violins, strings and continuo, RV 522
4 3:14
5 2:45
6 2:57
Concerto No. 9 in D major, for violin, strings an continuo, RV 230
7 2:05
8 2:33
9 2:13
Concerto No. 10 in B minor, for four violins, violoncello, strings and continuo, RV 580
10 3:26
11 1:56
12 3:27
Concerto No. 11 in D minor, for two violins, violoncello, strings and continuo, RV 565
13 4:01
14 2:20
15 2:31
Concerto No. 12 in E major, for violin, strings and continuo, RV 265
16 3:24
17 3:37
18 2:59
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