L’evenement du mois - (Disc of the Month)
Diapason - July/August 2005
Gramophone - July 2005
"An impressive issue..a wonderful sense of Mullova and Il Giardino Armonico functioning as an indivisible unit while Giovanni Antonini’s conducting is exceptional"
The Guardian - 10 June 2005
"Great that the Onyx label was able to launch on the back of such an excellent and rewarding programme (5 stars)"
The Independent - 14 June 2005
"The resultant sound is so raw it verges on the bucolic, yet phrasing and articulation are immaculate and the confrontational atmosphere is nuclear. This is Vivaldi no holds barred."
London Evening Standard - 8 June 2005
"The sparks really fly here. I savoured every moment of the playing. Excellent - More please!"
Record of the Month - September 2005
"Mullova is no stranger to gut strings and period performance – she did it memorably in her Beethoven and Mendelssohn concertos with Gardiner (Philips, reviewed August 2003), and now she’s teamed up with one of the most sparkling of the Baroque bands around. They have the first word with their vigorous attack in the D major concerto (RV 208), and when Mullova enters, she pushes the tempo even more urgently. In the slow movement, she weaves arabesques around the highly decorated lute and harpsichord continuo with a rubato that’s free and natural, before the finale sees a return to the energy of the opening. Three of the violinists from the ensemble join her in the B minor concerto, making a splendid team, unanimous in rhythm and ornamentation, and in lightness of attack in the central section of the slow movement. For the other three concertos, Mullova’s on her own. The C major is the least exciting, with some formulaic sequences in its outer movements. But the D major (RV 234) has a delightful unpredictability about some of the harmonic progressions, and throughout the disc there’s never any lack of interest in the texture of the music, with variety of articulation and dynamic from the strings and weight in the continuo.The recording is bright and consistently detailed." ****
BBC Music Magazine
"It’s impossible to find fault with this exceptional disc by Viktoria Mullova, which should satisfy fans of authentic Baroque performance as well as of contemporary violin playing.
Mullova plays her ’Jules Falk’ Stradivarius, using gut strings tuned A=415 (standard tuning is A=440) and a baroque bow, and to this adds her incredible technique and Russian-schooled musical discipline (before she defected from the Soviet Union in 1983 she was a student of the formidable and brilliant Russian violinist Leonid Kogan) to successfully fuse these two very different worlds.
The range of bowing techniques she uses in these Vivaldi concertos produces a real feast of effects. The rapid-fire cadenzas of tracks 1 and 3 (the ’Grosso Mogul’ concerto) are especially stunning in this respect, as are the fantastic closing stages of track 12.
Mullova also manages to sound completely natural and uncontrived in the complicated improvisatory passages - track 2 of the same concerto is a particularly good example of this. There are moments of huge delicacy and simplicity too, as can be heard in the wistful Andante to the ’Il Favorito’ concerto (track 14), and this lighter touch acts as a perfect counterbalance to the gutsier, virtuosic playing of the Allegro movements.
Throughout these concertos Il Giardino Armonico support Mullova in every way. A well-established Baroque ensemble, led by recorder player Giovanni Antonini since 1989, they produce all kinds of different tone-colours and subtle bowing effects, and their playing is consistently rhythmical and exciting even in the softer passages (listen especially to track 3 and the breathtaking track 10).
Released on the relatively new independent record label Onyx, founded by Chris Craker of Sony/BMG and Paul Moseley, this disc is recorded quite close to the performers but is perfectly judged so that all the details are easily heard. Tastefully played and recorded, you can buy this CD with confidence."
Classics Today (USA)
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