Vivaldi: Venetian Dreams / Schwarz, Rebel Baroque Orchestra

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VIVALDI Concertos, Op. 10/1-6 (RV 433-37). Suonata à 4 al Santo Sepolcro in E?. Concerto in g, RV 157 Matthias Maute (rcr, fl); Jörg-Michael Schwarz (vn, ldr); Rebel BRIDGE 9377 (56:40)

Here is an exciting and well-played disc of Vivaldi concertos (and a Sonata for strings and basso continuo) played not by a full orchestra but by the eight-piece Dutch group Rebel (pronounced “ruh-BELL,” after the French Baroque composer Jean-Féry Rebel). Although it is only an octet, Rebel performs these works in the “La Scintilla” brisk-orchestral style pioneered by that Italian orchestra. In Vivaldi this works very well, and since this is the music of that composer, this group’s style could also be called “modified Red Priest” as a model on the British ensemble of that name. I was utterly delighted by Matthias Maute’s recorder playing in the concerto, op. 10/3, nicknamed “The Goldfinch.” His technique is so good that he is able to create swirling lines that almost sound as if they are easy to play, which they most certainly are not. Moreover, Rebel’s strings—including the oft-tricky basso continuo—are not only consistently in tune but have a good tone. In this album, they play so much as an ensemble that one comes to hear them as a sort of chamber orchestra. I wondered how they might actually sound in music where they are called upon to perform in opposing motion, i.e., in works calling for an interplay of the instruments.

Only in the transverse flute concerto (op. 10/4) did I feel that Rebel’s strings had a bit too edgy a tone quality, incurred by their insistence on only using straight tone (an approach not supported by historical scholarship), and a very thin straight tone at that. The richness of the double bass and cello underneath the higher strings created a nice balance of sound, especially in the concerto for alto recorder (op. 10/5). Here the lower pitch brings the strings down by about a third from the other concertos, and the generally pastoral quality of this music is welcome relief from the composer’s generally upbeat style.

This disc, though having a long list of competitors in this material, is a worthy follow-up to this group’s previous disc, Shades of Red (Bridge 9173). Recorded in St. John’s Lutheran Church in Stamford, Connecticut, the sonics have just enough ambience around the instruments to give a nice sheen to them without overdoing it.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley


...a tremendous new recording of Vivaldi's Opus 10 Flute Concertos played by brilliant young Belgian virtuoso Matthias Maute and one of the Big Apple's top original instrument crews, Rebel (accent on the second syllable). It's an extraordinary display of panache and virtuosity...and Rebel backs him with ferocious energy and risk-taking authenticity... The playing is out of the box with its ornaments, plastic phrasings and simulated spontaneity so that each new section, each new tune, each new dashing series of runs and trills, brings with it unexpected surprises and just enough time to catch your breath between movements.

-- Laurence Vittes, Huffington Post

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: BCD9377

  • UPC: 090404937729

  • Label: Bridge Records

  • Composer: Antonio Vivaldi

  • Conductor: Jörg-Michael Schwarz

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Rebel Baroque Orchestra