Lara St. John

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons; Piazzolla: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires

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Joining together Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Piazzolla's The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires on a single disc was an excellent idea. Providing the musicians with lush sound and beautiful productions values was likewise an excellent idea. Unfortunately, the actual performances are less than excellent. Indeed, they might be most positively characterized as superficial and mediocre. Lara St. John, the charismatic Canadian violinist, has the technique to play Vivaldi's four violin concertos -- not much of an achievement since these are not particularly challenging works -- but despite her hyper-expressive phrasing, St. John's interpretations are nothing special. Her "Spring" is more dutiful than joyful, her "Summer" more soporific than sultry, her "Autumn" tart more than sweet, and her

"Winter" chilly to the point of coldness. Worse yet, St. John does not quite have the technique to play Piazzolla's much more demanding music, and her accounts are scrappy and sloppy. What's more, she seems to have less feel for Piazzolla than for Vivaldi, and her interpretations lack understanding of the Argentine composer's feel for rhythm or melody. Accompanied with much spirit but less polish by the Youth Orchestra of Venezuela under the direction of Eduardo Marturet, St. John's performances here will mostly likely be of interest only to her fans.

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