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Reviews: Vivaldi: Four Seasons etc. - Fone Ensemble/Fornaciari

Reviews: 6

Site review by Polly Nomial January 10, 2007
Performance:   Sonics:  
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

http://www.HRAudio.net/showmusic.php?title=277#reviews

Review by stvnharr May 22, 2004 (4 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Few pieces are as well known as these four Op.8 concertos. Most every recording of them has a moderate, or larger, sized group with the featured soloist. This recording differs from the norm in that it is a small group recording, one instrument per part plus the soloist. Added to that is that each instrument is a heritage instrument, with pics in the booklet.
The sound of the smallish group may not be for everyone's taste, as it differs a bit from the norm. But the sound and the playing here are quite good. And the more one listens, the more enjoyable it all becomes as the ear and brain get accustomed to the smaller sound.
I once heard one of these concertos at a concert played by a similar sized group. The natural amplification of the stone cathedral made it all sound like a much larger group.
All in all this is a nice recording and a nice contrast to the more usual way these pieces are recorded.

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Review by JW October 21, 2004 (0 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
It sounds tiny (no, not tinny). But soon you settle in and the familiar themes are played before you. Personally I never have been captivated by Vivaldi, so that colors my judgement I guess. It's OK, but not an essential classic in my view. Recording wise I find this SA-CD good, but not exceptional. These instruments can be rendered with more body/timbre than they have been here I find. I think it's a little too lean.

Jw

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Review by brenda October 28, 2004 (8 of 9 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Well, I've really enjoyed this disc and don't find either the sound or the performances to be "tiny" (as JW did). This is, after all, a chamber version of the Seasons, with one (original period) instrument to a part and shouldn't sound like a full orchestra. Having said that, the performances aren't "scaled down" but quite full blooded and more detailed and zestful than many others I've heard. The sound is intimate without being small. Indeed, it's warm and accurate and perfect for domestic listening. Overall, I agree with stvnhar's review that this is a very worthwhile disc, - "a nice recording and a nice contrast" to so much standardised Vivaldi.

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Review by mwagner1962 June 26, 2005 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Well, the quest for a killer SACD of Vivaldi's "4 Seasons" goes on. This recording is making me wonder if there is some unwritten rule that states that whenever one is recording string chamber music, every engineer needs to get the mikes as close to the ensemble as possible. It seems that any time there is some string chamber material to record, the recordings get hot. This SACD is no different!!!

Also, what is the push for these tiny ensembles backing up the soloist?? There is a new Decca SACD with a soloist that used only 4 instruments as the ensemble. Now, I do not want a 100 piece string orchestra to back up the soloist (I remember a PBS broadcast where Gidon Kramer was performing this music in a beautiful church and was backed up by about 12 or so strings) but I DO want a moderate sized ensemble, at least.

I cannot listen to this SACD at any decent level, as there is such a metallic and tinny edge to the sound. And these instruments are supposed to be the pride of Cremona??? YIKES!!!!

There is a string bass added to the mix that adds some tubiness that is unusual to my ears (no, I am not an expert on the historical performance practices of this music) and that tubiness is not present on my current favorite redbook performance with Gil Shaham and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra not was there a string bass on the Kramer performance (though there is plenty of digital artifacts in the not too pleasant DG sound).

Finally, it seems that there is another rule that prohibits string recordings from having any air or space around them.

This recording is a serious disappointment, and does not conclude my quest. I bet that if the microphones had been backed off 10-15', the results would have been different...unless they did not want us to actually realize how thin the little ensembles really sounds as the accompaniment???

Too bad...

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Review by Posza September 16, 2008 (0 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
He has a beautiful sound! Two of his months I obtained this superb expense, currently the favourite SACD.

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