L'Arte dell'Arco / Federico Guglielmo

Vivaldi: Mandolin & Lute Concertos

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Antonio Vivaldi's all-girl orchestra at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, where illegitimate daughters of the aristocracy were stashed, contained some 70 members. Existing images of the orchestra show several dozen players, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who talked his way past the curtain behind which the girls played in concert, clearly reported several names as if they were part of a larger group. For those who still wish to believe that an orchestra of six, such as the one featured here by the ensemble L'arte dell'Arco, then consider this release. Advantages include an assortment of typically adventurous concertos featuring the lute or mandolin, clear engineering rendition of these hard-to-record instruments from the budget Dutch label Brilliant, and the presence of fine Baroque archlute playing by Diego Cantalupi. All these elements cohere in the Concerto in D major, RV 93, more typically played on a mandolin, but trading it off to another plucked instrument is justifiable. The central slow movement of this work, a famous piece, receives a fresh and delicate performance. The keyboardless continuo in several pieces here designated as trios (not trio sonatas) is also intriguing. Among the downsides are an overly sweet, silvery string sound and in the end the underpowered, tinny quality of the whole. Those convinced of the one-instrument-per-part approach might try this out, but general Vivaldi lovers can do better.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Concerto in G for two mandolins, strings and continuo, RV532
1 3:54
2 4:21
3 3:32
Concerto in C for mandolin, strings and continuo, RV425
4 2:38
5 3:18
6 2:12
Trio in G minor for violin, lute and basso, RV85
7 4:02
8 3:01
9 1:51
Concerto in D for two violins, lute and basso, RV93
10 3:29
11 4:11
12 2:11
Trio in C for violin, lute and basso, RV82
13 4:06
14 3:03
15 1:58
Concerto in D minor for viola d'amore, lute, strings and basso, RV540
16 5:21
17 3:01
18 3:32
Concerto in A for harpsichord, strings and continuo, RV780
19 3:43
20 2:10
21 3:10
blue highlight denotes track pick