L'Ecole d'Orphée

Antonio Vivaldi: The Complete Sonatas for Violoncello & Continuo

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With his violin concertos dominating the recording industry and concert stage, it's sometimes easy to forget that Vivaldi also wrote a great deal of other music, for different instrumentation. The cello, for example, was graced with some 27 concertos and nine sonatas. While it could be argued that these cello sonatas pale in comparison to the more well-known violin concertos, they are still deserving of attention and appreciation. This Musical Heritage Society album (originally released on the CRD label) features members of L'Ecole d'Orphée (cellists Susan Sheppard and Jane Coe with harpsichordist Lucy Carolan) in a survey of the complete sonatas. Listeners will immediately notice the low recording level and will need to really crank their stereos just to be able to hear what's going on. And what's going on is nothing remarkable. Yes, Sheppard and colleagues play with a sufficient level of technical accuracy. Yes, balance between the three is acceptable. And yes, the nine sonatas are played through without any glaring errors or blunders. But that's really all that can be said. There's very little fire to be found in this recording; no grit, no excitement, no risk-taking, nothing to get the blood really flowing through your veins. These sonatas, which are often used as student works, need all of these things to be truly successful on an album. Otherwise, they are far too easily relegated to mere background music, which is precisely what this two-disc set turns out to be.

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