Vivaldi: La Stravaganza / Roos, La Pastorella

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VIVALDI (Arr. Roos) La stravaganza, op. 4/1,3–6,9,11 Frédéric de Roos (rcr, cond); La Pastorella (period instruments) RICERCAR 288 (56:29)

Do you wish that Vivaldi had penned more concerti da camera ? (Not that you were lying awake at night thinking about it!) So do the members of La Pastorella, apparently. Doing nothing worse than what Baroque composers used to do all the time, they have taken seven concertos from La stravaganza , and arranged them for their ensemble, which consists of a violin (played by Mira Glodeanu), oboe (Benoît Laurent), cello (Hervé Douchy), bassoon (Alain de Rijckere), organ or harpsichord (Guy Penson), and guitar or theorbo (Philippe Malfeyt), all under the direction of recorder player de Roos. Does it work? Nicely. Does it replace Vivaldi’s originals? Of course not; but it complements them well.

The originals are violin concertos. Sometimes the solo part remains assigned to the violin, but at other times it is reassigned to the recorder, the oboe, or the bassoon. The solo material is passed from instrument to instrument throughout the course of a movement. If you feel that some of Vivaldi’s concertos for string instruments suffer from a too unvaried texture, these arrangements will remedy that. La Pastorella keeps the concertos’ original keys, although they do transpose some of the slow movements up or down a fifth, to “better suit the tessitura of the new solo instrument.” Again, that’s hardly a hanging offense in this repertoire, and the ends justify the means.

The performances are wide awake, yet relaxed. No one is trying to show off. The music-making is like an afternoon spent at home with friends. Try the slow movement of Concerto No. 11, and see if you don’t enjoy hearing the recorder sing with light melancholy to the accompaniment of the organ and theorbo. De Roos’s recorder has a likeable timbre, and he blends it beautifully with the other instruments. The booklet doesn’t include biographical material, so I don’t know how long La Pastorella has been around—it is not a new group. This CD moves me to explore its apparently extensive back catalog, though. This is lovely, innovative, low-pressure Vivaldi.

FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: RIC288

  • UPC: 5400439002883

  • Label: Ricercar

  • Composer: Antonio Vivaldi

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: La Pastorella

  • Performer: Frédéric De Roos