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Il Giardino Armonico
Il Giardino Armonico
Price: $41.12
32 used & new from $30.17

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Vivaldi...and more, September 2, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Il Giardino Armonico (Audio CD)
Vivaldi's concerti for mandolin have been constants in my life since high school when my father purchased an introductory set for a buck from the now-defunct but once glorious Musical Heritage Society, didn't care for it and passed it on to me. It was the Claudio Scimone/I Solisti Veneti set and I immediately fell in love with it. This majestic, brilliant music has been with me through many editions (LP, cassette, CD versions) for over 50 years. It was one of the first CDs I purchased when a digital version became available (the Scimone set in 1984, reviewed below.)

Vivaldi's concerti for mandolin and lute are among the glories of his output and of the Baroque in general. With many versions available with various selections and so many interpretive approaches it's not an easy choice deciding which recording(s) to go with. Although there are many available on disk here are some observations on a select few.

Il Giardino Armonico with Giovanni Antonini
RV 558, 540 425, 85, 93, 82, 532
Playing so precise and crisp it fairly crackles. Every note has been considered. Sharp, on the mark attacks with a thrilling edge. Every instrument is in perfect balance. In many ways the best of the bunch if not as lyrical in the slow movements as the John Williams or Claudio Scimone sets. This is muscular, no-holds-barred Vivaldi that scales the heights. The slow movements bristle with a lyrically masculine sensitivity. Every concerto is beautifully realized and the recording is first rate. The playing overall is a revelation - many moments are breathtaking in their precision and crispness. A set that never fails to enrapture time after time. All that plus that fact that it's available in a bargain box set of 11 CDs which serves as a terrific overall introduction to the music of the Baroque. A recording for those who like their Vivaldi straight. Rock-solid musicianship in the service of music these performers both understand and truly appreciate. Worth every one of the 5 stars and then some.

Europa Galante with Fabio Biondi
RV 532, 558, 576, 564, 319, 425, 555
My least favorite of the group, an idiosyncratic performance I simply don't care for, try as I might. One problem is that the balance seems off, especially when compared to the other sets. The organ accompaniment competes with the mandolin in one of the concertos. Other instruments in other places do the same thing and I find it distracting. Some of the tempi also seem off. What I think of as the lyrical swell of these pieces is missing. I've wanted to like this and other Vivaldi recordings by this ensemble but haven't been able to warm to them the way I have with others. The few times I've listened to it I am reminded how well any given concert sounds in any of the other versions. It's well played and recorded but I would pass on this one. This group has garnered a lot of praise for their live performances and I heartily agree with their aim of promoting an Italian period instrument ensemble, but the recordings strike me as too fussy and overdone. Four stars.

I Solisti Veneti with Claudio Scimone
RV 532, 425, 558, 93
Readers should know that is one little problem here: during recording the sound of passing traffic (sounds like a truck) was picked up. It's faint and only in one movement (the quiet middle movement of RV 532 - more misfortune) but once heard it detracts somewhat from the lyrical beauty of the movement. Overall, however, the playing and the recording is superb. The performances are terrific - well-balanced with the mandolin at the forefront and solidly supported. In many respects, this is the most translucent of all with respect to the slow movements which are the aural equivalent of cut crystal - delicate and luminous. The middle movement of RV 558 is a particular wonder. A subdued mandolin provides accents against the soaring, wistful melody carried in the strings - pure Italian Baroque romanticism. Exquisitely bittersweet and suffused with melancholic recollections of love lost yet enduring still. A real shame that the recording has the slight defect mentioned above, however brief. But if you are searching for a set of concertos beautifully played - lyrical and dynamic at the same time this is well worth considering. Should be in every classical music library. 5 stars.

John Williams with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Janos Rolla conductor
RV 230, 356, 82, 540, 93
This set, performed on guitar and not mandolin, is a real charmer. With the added bonus of two violin concerti transcribed for guitar (the credits list Williams as the transcriber) it's a can't miss compilation. This is Vivaldi for a rainy day, quiet, reflective, a bit wistful and at peace with the world. The guitar (as opposed to mandolin) lends a warmer texture to the music, rounder, freer, more liquid, like a clear mountain stream. The performance is restrained but lively with Williams perfectly set against the accompaniment - each does full justice to the other. The guitar playing is absolutely perfect - never showy and always in the service of the music. This is Vivaldi in the grand manner, performed with exquisite exuberance and suffused with majestic grandeur in a regal, courtly style. 5 stars.

To summarize I would recommend getting everything here with the exception of the Europa Galante set. That way you'll have the "greatest hits" of these recordings by exceptional artists with a few extras here and there as well.


Concerti Per Mandolini
Concerti Per Mandolini
20 used & new from $18.12

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Has been a lifelong friend, September 2, 2013
This review is from: Concerti Per Mandolini (Audio CD)
Vivaldi's concerti for mandolin have been constants in my life since high school when my father purchased an introductory set for a buck from the now-defunct but once glorious Musical Heritage Society, didn't care for it and passed it on to me. It was the Claudio Scimone/I Solisti Veneti set and I immediately fell in love with it. This majestic, brilliant music has been with me through many editions (LP, cassette, CD versions) for over 50 years. It was one of the first CDs I purchased when a digital version became available (the Scimone set in 1984, reviewed below.)

Vivaldi's concerti for mandolin and lute are among the glories of his output and of the Baroque in general. With many versions available with various selections and so many interpretive approaches it's not an easy choice deciding which recording(s) to go with. Although there are many available on disk here are some observations on a select few.

Il Giardino Armonico with Giovanni Antonini
RV 558, 540 425, 85, 93, 82, 532
Playing so precise and crisp it fairly crackles. Every note has been considered. Sharp, on the mark attacks with a thrilling edge. Every instrument is in perfect balance. In many ways the best of the bunch if not as lyrical in the slow movements as the John Williams or Claudio Scimone sets. This is muscular, no-holds-barred Vivaldi that scales the heights. The slow movements bristle with a lyrically masculine sensitivity. Every concerto is beautifully realized and the recording is first rate. The playing overall is a revelation - many moments are breathtaking in their precision and crispness. A set that never fails to enrapture time after time. All that plus that fact that it's available in a bargain box set of 11 CDs which serves as a terrific overall introduction to the music of the Baroque. A recording for those who like their Vivaldi straight. Rock-solid musicianship in the service of music these performers both understand and truly appreciate. Worth every one of the 5 stars and then some.

Europa Galante with Fabio Biondi
RV 532, 558, 576, 564, 319, 425, 555
My least favorite of the group, an idiosyncratic performance I simply don't care for, try as I might. One problem is that the balance seems off, especially when compared to the other sets. The organ accompaniment competes with the mandolin in one of the concertos. Other instruments in other places do the same thing and I find it distracting. Some of the tempi also seem off. What I think of as the lyrical swell of these pieces is missing. I've wanted to like this and other Vivaldi recordings by this ensemble but haven't been able to warm to them the way I have with others. The few times I've listened to it I am reminded how well any given concert sounds in any of the other versions. It's well played and recorded but I would pass on this one. This group has garnered a lot of praise for their live performances and I heartily agree with their aim of promoting an Italian period instrument ensemble, but the recordings strike me as too fussy and overdone. Four stars.

I Solisti Veneti with Claudio Scimone
RV 532, 425, 558, 93
Readers should know that is one little problem here: during recording the sound of passing traffic (sounds like a truck) was picked up. It's faint and only in one movement (the quiet middle movement of RV 532 - more misfortune) but once heard it detracts somewhat from the lyrical beauty of the movement. Overall, however, the playing and the recording is superb. The performances are terrific - well-balanced with the mandolin at the forefront and solidly supported. In many respects, this is the most translucent of all with respect to the slow movements which are the aural equivalent of cut crystal - delicate and luminous. The middle movement of RV 558 is a particular wonder. A subdued mandolin provides accents against the soaring, wistful melody carried in the strings - pure Italian Baroque romanticism. Exquisitely bittersweet and suffused with melancholic recollections of love lost yet enduring still. A real shame that the recording has the slight defect mentioned above, however brief. But if you are searching for a set of concertos beautifully played - lyrical and dynamic at the same time this is well worth considering. Should be in every classical music library. 5 stars.

John Williams with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Janos Rolla conductor
RV 230, 356, 82, 540, 93
This set, performed on guitar and not mandolin, is a real charmer. With the added bonus of two violin concerti transcribed for guitar (the credits list Williams as the transcriber) it's a can't miss compilation. This is Vivaldi for a rainy day, quiet, reflective, a bit wistful and at peace with the world. The guitar (as opposed to mandolin) lends a warmer texture to the music, rounder, freer, more liquid, like a clear mountain stream. The performance is restrained but lively with Williams perfectly set against the accompaniment - each does full justice to the other. The guitar playing is absolutely perfect - never showy and always in the service of the music. This is Vivaldi in the grand manner, performed with exquisite exuberance and suffused with majestic grandeur in a regal, courtly style. 5 stars.

To summarize I would recommend getting everything here with the exception of the Europa Galante set. That way you'll have the "greatest hits" of these recordings by exceptional artists with a few extras here and there as well.


Vivaldi: Concerti per Mandolini; Concerti con Molti Strumenti
Vivaldi: Concerti per Mandolini; Concerti con Molti Strumenti
Price: $14.99
39 used & new from $0.96

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Okay, but, September 2, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Vivaldi's concerti for mandolin have been constants in my life since high school when my father purchased an introductory set for a buck from the now-defunct but once glorious Musical Heritage Society, didn't care for it and passed it on to me. It was the Claudio Scimone/I Solisti Veneti set and I immediately fell in love with it. This majestic, brilliant music has been with me through many editions (LP, cassette, CD versions) for over 50 years. It was one of the first CDs I purchased when a digital version became available (the Scimone set in 1984, reviewed below.)

Vivaldi's concerti for mandolin and lute are among the glories of his output and of the Baroque in general. With many versions available with various selections and so many interpretive approaches it's not an easy choice deciding which recording(s) to go with. Although there are many available on disk here are some observations on a select few.

Il Giardino Armonico with Giovanni Antonini
RV 558, 540 425, 85, 93, 82, 532
Playing so precise and crisp it fairly crackles. Every note has been considered. Sharp, on the mark attacks with a thrilling edge. Every instrument is in perfect balance. In many ways the best of the bunch if not as lyrical in the slow movements as the John Williams or Claudio Scimone sets. This is muscular, no-holds-barred Vivaldi that scales the heights. The slow movements bristle with a lyrically masculine sensitivity. Every concerto is beautifully realized and the recording is first rate. The playing overall is a revelation - many moments are breathtaking in their precision and crispness. A set that never fails to enrapture time after time. All that plus that fact that it's available in a bargain box set of 11 CDs which serves as a terrific overall introduction to the music of the Baroque. A recording for those who like their Vivaldi straight. Rock-solid musicianship in the service of music these performers both understand and truly appreciate. Worth every one of the 5 stars and then some.

Europa Galante with Fabio Biondi
RV 532, 558, 576, 564, 319, 425, 555
My least favorite of the group, an idiosyncratic performance I simply don't care for, try as I might. One problem is that the balance seems off, especially when compared to the other sets. The organ accompaniment competes with the mandolin in one of the concertos. Other instruments in other places do the same thing and I find it distracting. Some of the tempi also seem off. What I think of as the lyrical swell of these pieces is missing. I've wanted to like this and other Vivaldi recordings by this ensemble but haven't been able to warm to them the way I have with others. The few times I've listened to it I am reminded how well any given concert sounds in any of the other versions. It's well played and recorded but I would pass on this one. This group has garnered a lot of praise for their live performances and I heartily agree with their aim of promoting an Italian period instrument ensemble, but the recordings strike me as too fussy and overdone. Four stars.

I Solisti Veneti with Claudio Scimone
RV 532, 425, 558, 93
Readers should know that is one little problem here: during recording the sound of passing traffic (sounds like a truck) was picked up. It's faint and only in one movement (the quiet middle movement of RV 532 - more misfortune) but once heard it detracts somewhat from the lyrical beauty of the movement. Overall, however, the playing and the recording is superb. The performances are terrific - well-balanced with the mandolin at the forefront and solidly supported. In many respects, this is the most translucent of all with respect to the slow movements which are the aural equivalent of cut crystal - delicate and luminous. The middle movement of RV 558 is a particular wonder. A subdued mandolin provides accents against the soaring, wistful melody carried in the strings - pure Italian Baroque romanticism. Exquisitely bittersweet and suffused with melancholic recollections of love lost yet enduring still. A real shame that the recording has the slight defect mentioned above, however brief. But if you are searching for a set of concertos beautifully played - lyrical and dynamic at the same time this is well worth considering. Should be in every classical music library. 5 stars.

John Williams with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Janos Rolla conductor
RV 230, 356, 82, 540, 93
This set, performed on guitar and not mandolin, is a real charmer. With the added bonus of two violin concerti transcribed for guitar (the credits list Williams as the transcriber) it's a can't miss compilation. This is Vivaldi for a rainy day, quiet, reflective, a bit wistful and at peace with the world. The guitar (as opposed to mandolin) lends a warmer texture to the music, rounder, freer, more liquid, like a clear mountain stream. The performance is restrained but lively with Williams perfectly set against the accompaniment - each does full justice to the other. The guitar playing is absolutely perfect - never showy and always in the service of the music. This is Vivaldi in the grand manner, performed with exquisite exuberance and suffused with majestic grandeur in a regal, courtly style. 5 stars.

To summarize I would recommend getting everything here with the exception of the Europa Galante set. That way you'll have the "greatest hits" of these recordings by exceptional artists with a few extras here and there as well.


Vivaldi: Concertos
Vivaldi: Concertos
Price: $7.29
61 used & new from $0.01

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real guitar god, September 2, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Vivaldi: Concertos (Audio CD)
Vivaldi's concerti for mandolin have been constants in my life since high school when my father purchased an introductory set for a buck from the now-defunct but once glorious Musical Heritage Society, didn't care for it and passed it on to me. It was the Claudio Scimone/I Solisti Veneti set and I immediately fell in love with it. This majestic, brilliant music has been with me through many editions (LP, cassette, CD versions) for over 50 years. It was one of the first CDs I purchased when a digital version became available (the Scimone set in 1984, reviewed below.)

Vivaldi's concerti for mandolin and lute are among the glories of his output and of the Baroque in general. With many versions available with various selections and so many interpretive approaches it's not an easy choice deciding which recording(s) to go with. Although there are many available on disk here are some observations on a select few.

Il Giardino Armonico with Giovanni Antonini
RV 558, 540 425, 85, 93, 82, 532
Playing so precise and crisp it fairly crackles. Every note has been considered. Sharp, on the mark attacks with a thrilling edge. Every instrument is in perfect balance. In many ways the best of the bunch if not as lyrical in the slow movements as the John Williams or Claudio Scimone sets. This is muscular, no-holds-barred Vivaldi that scales the heights. The slow movements bristle with a lyrically masculine sensitivity. Every concerto is beautifully realized and the recording is first rate. The playing overall is a revelation - many moments are breathtaking in their precision and crispness. A set that never fails to enrapture time after time. All that plus that fact that it's available in a bargain box set of 11 CDs which serves as a terrific overall introduction to the music of the Baroque. A recording for those who like their Vivaldi straight. Rock-solid musicianship in the service of music these performers both understand and truly appreciate. Worth every one of the 5 stars and then some.

Europa Galante with Fabio Biondi
RV 532, 558, 576, 564, 319, 425, 555
My least favorite of the group, an idiosyncratic performance I simply don't care for, try as I might. One problem is that the balance seems off, especially when compared to the other sets. The organ accompaniment competes with the mandolin in one of the concertos. Other instruments in other places do the same thing and I find it distracting. Some of the tempi also seem off. What I think of as the lyrical swell of these pieces is missing. I've wanted to like this and other Vivaldi recordings by this ensemble but haven't been able to warm to them the way I have with others. The few times I've listened to it I am reminded how well any given concert sounds in any of the other versions. It's well played and recorded but I would pass on this one. This group has garnered a lot of praise for their live performances and I heartily agree with their aim of promoting an Italian period instrument ensemble, but the recordings strike me as too fussy and overdone. Four stars.

I Solisti Veneti with Claudio Scimone
RV 532, 425, 558, 93
Readers should know that is one little problem here: during recording the sound of passing traffic (sounds like a truck) was picked up. It's faint and only in one movement (the quiet middle movement of RV 532 - more misfortune) but once heard it detracts somewhat from the lyrical beauty of the movement. Overall, however, the playing and the recording is superb. The performances are terrific - well-balanced with the mandolin at the forefront and solidly supported. In many respects, this is the most translucent of all with respect to the slow movements which are the aural equivalent of cut crystal - delicate and luminous. The middle movement of RV 558 is a particular wonder. A subdued mandolin provides accents against the soaring, wistful melody carried in the strings - pure Italian Baroque romanticism. Exquisitely bittersweet and suffused with melancholic recollections of love lost yet enduring still. A real shame that the recording has the slight defect mentioned above, however brief. But if you are searching for a set of concertos beautifully played - lyrical and dynamic at the same time this is well worth considering. Should be in every classical music library. 5 stars.

John Williams with the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Janos Rolla conductor
RV 230, 356, 82, 540, 93
This set, performed on guitar and not mandolin, is a real charmer. With the added bonus of two violin concerti transcribed for guitar (the credits list Williams as the transcriber) it's a can't miss compilation. This is Vivaldi for a rainy day, quiet, reflective, a bit wistful and at peace with the world. The guitar (as opposed to mandolin) lends a warmer texture to the music, rounder, freer, more liquid, like a clear mountain stream. The performance is restrained but lively with Williams perfectly set against the accompaniment - each does full justice to the other. The guitar playing is absolutely perfect - never showy and always in the service of the music. This is Vivaldi in the grand manner, performed with exquisite exuberance and suffused with majestic grandeur in a regal, courtly style. 5 stars.

To summarize I would recommend getting everything here with the exception of the Europa Galante set. That way you'll have the "greatest hits" of these recordings by exceptional artists with a few extras here and there as well.


J.S. Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos - Collegium Aureum
J.S. Bach: The Brandenburg Concertos - Collegium Aureum
Price: $13.28
17 used & new from $8.72

5.0 out of 5 stars My first hearing of the complete Brandenburgs, August 23, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This performance was the first time I heard the complete Brandenburg Concertos and I was enthralled. That was on LP back in the early 70s. Since then I've heard other versions by other conductors/orchestras. The Neville Marriner set with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and "all-star" soloists is a favorite, although played on modern instruments. And Trevor Pinnock with the English Consort is a definite contender. When I saw this Collegium Aureum set I was reminded of how many times I played the LP and how much I enjoyed the music. Yes, it's a bit dated perhaps but it's still one of my favorite recordings of the pieces. The sound is good, not the best perhaps but certainly nothing to complain about. Sentimental memories aside, I still recommend it to anyone with an interest in Bach and/or early instrument performances.


Violin Concertos
Violin Concertos
Price: $18.99
28 used & new from $9.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Where has she been all my life?, August 23, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
Had heard a little about Viktoria Mullova and was curious. Found a performance she gave on the Berlin Philharmonic site. She played a piece by Stravinsky (not one of my favorites) and I was struck by how good she was. Looked on Amazon and found this Vivaldi set (one of my favorite composers) and went for it. Terrific concertos and truly amazing playing. I imagine these pieces she plays as exactly how Vivaldi (a violin virtuoso himself) would have wanted them played. Why she isn't better known in the states is a mystery.


Handel Oratorios: Israel In Egypt, Jephtha, Saul, Solomon
Handel Oratorios: Israel In Egypt, Jephtha, Saul, Solomon
Price: $99.12
30 used & new from $35.23

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great beauty in a small package, August 22, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Purchased this set at the same time as the one with the same picture and pink color by Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music. Already had Solomon but my Jeptha had gotten damaged in a move and needed replacing so I went for the set and I am glad I did. Again great music, superbly performed and recorded. Not of fan of including part of Israel In Egypt and one other (Jeptha, I think) on the same disk. Never really like it when record companies do that to save bucks (how much could 1 extra CD in the pack cost anyway?) But since I rip the CDs onto a solid state hard drive (in lossless uncompressed flac format - no mangled mp3s please) so I can listen to the entire oratorio without interruption this has really become a non-issue and I mention it only so others will know, but I still urge you to get the set. My 5.1 system has a USB and plays music straight from the drive so I've found this a good option for multi-disk sets. Fantastic sound and fantastic music no matter how you play it.


Handel: Messiah / Athalia / Esther / La Resurrezione
Handel: Messiah / Athalia / Esther / La Resurrezione
Price: $36.76
32 used & new from $32.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent hardly comes close to describing this, August 22, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Introduced to Handel's oratorios some years ago through (what else?) the Messiah I grew curious about this music and purchased Solomon (John Eliot Gardiner) some years back. I could not believe the beauty of the music and was looking for more when I came across this set on Amazon. Although I already had this recording of Messiah I purchased this set since it was the most cost-conscious way of owning the others here and also because I was familiar with Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music from other recordings in my library. All are fantastic, but Athalia is a real stand-out. Terrific sound and performances throughout. Others have complained of no libretti but I usually listen to this with the lights out so that's not an issue for me. If I do want to review the libretti or learn more about the pieces I look it up on the Internet. Absolutely beautiful music.


Stravaganza: Violin Concerti Op 4 1-12
Stravaganza: Violin Concerti Op 4 1-12
Price: $22.54
21 used & new from $9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More, please!!, August 22, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
After hearing Rachel Podger on Vivaldi's La Cetra I went straight to Amazon to order this SACD disk as well. I was so impressed with the other concertos that I had to have this one as well and am I glad I got it. The SACD sound is absolutely superb and the playing is gorgeous, perhaps even better than the other disk (but my opinion changes with whichever one I'm listening to at the time.) Rachel Podger is fantastic with this material and my only complaint is that there is not more available. I play both sets on my Blu-ray player (set to default to SACD when such a disk is present.) If you like Vivaldi do yourself a favor and get both sets.


Vivaldi: La Cetra
Vivaldi: La Cetra
Price: $42.14
26 used & new from $15.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Vivaldi for all seasons, August 22, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Vivaldi: La Cetra (Audio CD)
It's great that so much of Vivaldi's work is now available on CD and this SACD recording boasts terrific "you are there" sound. I picked this up because I've always liked Vivaldi, was unfamiliar with these concertos, and was curious about the SACD format. A winner on all accounts. This was my introduction to Rachel Podger and all I can say is where was I? She's terrific in these pieces and well accompanied by the Holland Baroque Society. I was so impressed that I immediately purchased the La Stravaganza set and was equally impressed. If you're looking for more Vivaldi than the Four Seasons (as great as those concertos are) and fantastic sound to boot then look no further.


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