VIVALDI: The Four Seasons. PIAZZOLLA: The Four Seasons
of Buenos Aires.
About a year ago this site mentioned an excellent recording on the Atma label of Piazzolla's arrangement of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons played by Les Violons Du Roy (REVIEW). Here is another performance of this fascinating work, featuring Lara St. John with two dozen members of the Simón Bolivár Youth Orchestra directed by Eduardo Marturet. As one might expect, this virtuoso ensemble rips into Piazzolla's imaginative score with gusto, and St. John is with them all the way. However, this is a surprisingly tame performance of the Vivaldi, and the extreme close-up recording conveys a rather scratchy sound not heard on the violinist's other fine recordings. The Piazzolla fares better in sound and it alone justifies owning this disk.
The distinguished Australian label Melba has two fine new releases featuring native artists. The first offers master clarinetist Paul Dean in music of Mozart, the composer's only concerto for the instrument, and the clarinet quintet. Guillame Tourniare leads the Queensland Orchestra (of which Dean was once principal clarinet), and the new Grainger Quartet (named after Percy Grainger) is heard in the quintet. Outstanding performances, recorded with Melba's usual rich sonics. The release lives up to its title: Sublime Mozart. The other disk also features Australians: the superb young tenor Steve Davislim, who already has recorded Schubert's Winterreise (REVIEW), two neglected works of Saint-Saëns—Hélène and Nuit Persane— (REVIEW), and a superb collection of songs by Richard Strauss (REVIEW). He is equally at home in this generous collection of Britten's folksong arrangements, and is ably accompanied by Simone Young, best known as one of the leading conductors of the day. Both of these are packaged luxuriously, with profuse program notes. Recommended!
R.E.B. (April 2009)