I have been listening to Tafelmusik’s first CD with their new music director Elisa Citterio Vivaldi con amore. The title tells you what to expect, a recording affectionate as a love-letter, a promise of great things to come.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve played through this lovely recording, a perfect companion as I drive home in rush-hour. You don’t mind traffic when you’re being kept company by Citterio, Cristina Zaccharias, Patricia Ahern & Geneviève Gilardeau (violins), Dominic Teresi (bassoon), John Abberger & Marco Cera (oboes), Lucas Harris (lute): just to name the soloists in the concerti, plus the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. So yes, this is a CD including concerti for lute, for two oboes, for bassoon, for 4 violins.
It’s a sign of the wonders on this recording that it functions as a kind of advocacy for the composer, arguing for his importance.
Do you like Vivaldi? You’ll adore this recording.
Not sure if you like Vivaldi? This recording will persuade you.
The energetic pieces make you want to dance. There’s joy throughout. When it’s slower you notice the beauty of your dashboard or the sun angling between the buildings as you cruise along in your car. There are some especially stunning moments. Vivaldi has a gift for melody, a very deep well overflowing with inventiveness & wit, bubbling over with life. If we think of the solos as a kind of discourse, their turns of phrase like conversation, we find bursts eloquence even though it’s non-verbal, a seductive invitation to surrender.
This is a perfect showcase for Tafelmusik, who sometimes seem to be an orchestra of virtuoso soloists. Everyone shines, many get a turn in the spotlight. Yet it’s a warm sunny glow, not a harsh glare, like a trip to Italy.
Who are Tafelmusik becoming? I pose the question only because they’ve been so amazing, one wonders what’s ahead, what happens to the chemistry with the contributions of Elisa Citterio. I’ve loved their work. Perhaps the best illustration I can give is to share this track from Tafelmusik’s recording House of Dreams, the slow movement from the D major lute concerto, played by Lucas Harris with Tafelmusik led by Jeanne Lamon.
Some might think of that as perfection, unsurpassable.
And so they undertake this marvelous lute concerto on the new Vivaldi CD, again featuring Harris’s luscious lute, Tafelmusik led this time by Citterio. It’s a bit faster I think. Dare I call it better? One doesn’t usually think about improving upon perfection, but I can’t stop listening to this track on the CD. Yes, I confess that when I really like a track I’ll listen to it over and over. Guilty. No wonder I am hearing this in my head, especially Harris’s fluid elaborations. Wonderful as the earlier one was, the new one is breath-taking. Is Citterio perhaps adding a special something? I am not sure. But I’m glad that we can have both. We don’t have to choose. Lucky me, or more accurately, lucky Toronto.
Sorry you’ll have to get the CD to hear the new version of this movement. Trust me, you won’t regret getting it.