In their original incarnation on LP, the sound of Trevor Pinnock and his English Consort's 1981 recording of Vivaldi's famous Four Seasons was clear and bright. In subsequent CD iterations, it was clearer and brighter. But in this 2008 Japanese original bit processing issue, it has passed clearest and brightest and gone all the way to transparent and translucent. One can hear each of the 13 string players bows strike their strings and every pluck of Nigel North's theobro or Pinnock's harpsichord. And soloist Simon Standage sounds so vibrant and present that he may as well be in the room standing between the speakers.
Trevor Pinnock is one of the world's leading exponents of historical performance practice, and this collection of Baroque keyboard favorites is one of his most successful attempts to communicate his musical values to a broad audience. These popular works are often anthologized, but seldom have they sounded as fresh and exciting as they do here. Handel's Harmonious Blacksmith and Bach's Italian Concerto are the best known of these selections, though Pinnock's playing liberates them from their use as flashy encore pieces and instead treats them as more intimate entertainments. François Couperin's magical Les baricades mistérieuses and Rameau's Gavotte Variations are also well known, and their inclusion on any disc of the harpsichord's "greatest hits" is de rigueur. Domenico Scarlatti's two Sonatas in E major are still brilliant, even at the lower tuning (A=415). The remaining works of this collection are perhaps less-widely heard, but each offers insights into both Pinnock's interpretive skills and the instrument's wealth of possibilities.
This is a really great five-CD set. You get all of Bach's concertos except the Brandenburgs - which is a shame because Pinnock's Brandenburgs are terrific. Nonetheless, this remains an absolutely cracking collection of some of Bach's most enjoyable music in excellent performances. In the Harpsichord Concertos Pinnock is himself the soloist and shows why he is such a very well-liked and highly regarded musician. The music springs to life under his fingers (and under his direction) and many of these performances set new and enduring standards when first released in the early 1980s. They have informed much subsequent Bach playing and have worn extremely well themselves, sounding as fresh and involving as they did nearly 30 years ago. He is joined by other fine harpsichordists in the concerti for two, three and four harpsichords, (Kenneth Gilbert, Nicholas Kraemer and Lars Ulrich Mortensen) and the Concerto for Four Harpsichords in particular is an absolute joy.
Trevor Pinnock's set of Mozart symphonies, recorded between 1992 and early 1995, was greeted warmly upon its release in three separate volumes (the last volume typically never made it to U.S. shores as a domestic release) and Universal has seen fit to re-issue it in an 11-CD box as part of its Collectors Edition series. While the general public honed its "historically informed" ear on the pioneering compilation set by Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music in the mid-1980s, Pinnock's later account, the second such to use period instruments, showed just how much more refined and skillful period-instrument playing was to become.
La stravanganza is a set of concertos, op. 4, written by Antonio Vivaldi in 1712-1713. All of the concertos were scored for solo violin, strings, and basso continuo; however, some of the movements in the concertos require extra soloists (like a second violin solo and/or a cello solo). What is perhaps most extraordinary about "La stravaganza" is Vivaldi's remarkable inventiveness within a defined framework of instrumental and harmonic forces.