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Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

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About this title: Faced with the challenge of competing with a horde of other recordings of Vivaldi's Four Seasons violin concertos on the market, the Boston Baroque under conductor Martin Pearlman, with Canadian-American violinist Christina Day Martinson, succeeds in standing out from the crowd. It may also try to pack too much into works whose appeal depends on a delicate balance between a well-established concerto form and a unique programmatic conception. Pearlman's interpretation falls among those that are heavily affected by the sonnets, perhaps written by Vivaldi himself, that accompanied the published concertos. The sonnets are reproduced in the booklet, and the music ebbs and flows with the texts to such a degree that the music comes to resemble a Romantic program symphony. There is considerable rhythmic freedom. The only comparable version is the modern-instrument recording by Dutch violinist Janine Jansen, which might have inspired this one in some respects. The other striking general feature of the disc is...

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