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Reviews: Vivaldi: La Stravaganza - Podger/Arte Dei Suonatori

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Reviews: 14

Review by petermwilson July 25, 2003 (1 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Hi,
This double album was the disc of the month in one of the UK Audio mags recently.
The fact that it was out in SACD, was completly ignored. What a shame!!
Peter m.

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Review by Feanor November 14, 2003 (1 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Caveat: I'm not a trained musician, only a music lover. Nor I am a afficianado of Vivaldi violin works. However this recording revealed to me that composer in almost a whole new light: more subtle, complex, while at the same time more exuberant than before.

The sound is not up to the standard of the performance. The sound is clean a sweet as you might expect from an SACD. However the principal performer and all strings sound extremely distant -- almost muffled or in an adjoining room. There is little of the natural 'bite' of the real instruments. I have heard one or two people say that this is the best string sound they've heard from a digital medium. I say NOT!

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Review by stvnharr November 29, 2003 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I bought this disc as a cd shortly after release this year. It was one of the best sounding cd's I had ever heard. When I purchased a sacd player, this was one of my first "must have" discs.
My views on the music would tend to be more along with those that made this disc Gramophone Baroque Recording of the Year, and nearly The Recording of the Year.
Sound is first rate as well, at least in the stereo mix.

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Review by vonwegen January 21, 2004 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
IMHO, the sound of this in surround is magnificent. High Fidelity Review gave it an extremely rare 100% in both sound quality & performance (see link below).

I have to agree with both ratings--and at 20 Euros for a 2-disk recording, the price is rather better than many single-disk SACD releases here in Europe. I would not hesitate at all to use this as a demonstration of 5.1 surround sound--it would be quite an easy sell!

http://www.highfidelityreview.com/reviews/review.asp?reviewnumber=17804510

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Review by Monteverdi January 22, 2004 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Crisp, delightful and sparkling performances from Ms. Podger and Arte Dei Suonatori. A First Class Super Audio disc. More, please!
©DAE 2004

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Review by nickc April 5, 2004 (3 of 4 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
WARNING: this disc is not for those who like to relax with a cup of tea! Great performances in absolutely first-class sound as per usual with Channel Classics. This is why I got into SACD. You can feel as well as hear the instruments in a magnificent MC acoustic. Please Opus 3 and Opus 8 Mr Sacks!

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Review by beardawgs April 19, 2004 (2 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I hate to spoil the party (below) but I definitely wonít be playing this one as a demonstration disc for 5.1 setup. First of all, it doesnít have .1 channel (sub woofer) and as it by now customary with CC recordings there is almost nothing coming from the back speakers. Whatís happening in front is rather two dimensional, with not much depth to it. The instruments do sound impressive, but I couldnít hear any of the church acoustic where this recording has been made. Baroque instruments have a Ďsmallí sound and rather close miking is necessary, but why bother with the church then? If there were no pictures of the orchestra in the booklet, I couldnít tell from the recording how big it is.

Close recording is suitable for this type of music and aggressive attack which Podger and her orchestra relish in. But the result here IMO is more superficially flashy. On the other hand, the playing is truly amazing, full of energy and invention. Top marks for the repertoire and performance, but the recording itself could have been more natural and spacious.

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Review by pjorgenunes May 21, 2004 (6 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
I do not feel the same as the last reviewer. In my opinion this is a very good performance and sound quality recording. I don't have a subwoofer and so my processor takes the low frequencies of the 5 speakers (5 full range KEF speakers) and even so the low frequencies sounds are quite impressive. In terms of rear speakers... I believe that for this kind of recordings these should be left only for generating accoustics. I'm not sure that it's the recording's place accoustics (I've never been there) but in my opinion it's great accoustics - it gives an all new dimension to the sound in my room. I think that major sounds coming from rear speakers should be left of for other kinds of creative records - Pink Floyd's Dark side of the moon, Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and similar kind of records.

Believe me, this is TOP performance and sound quality.

Paulo Nunes

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Review by sthebkrman February 14, 2005 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
As on now, this is the best classical SACD I own. I am just starting a classical collection thanks to the awesomeness of Super Audio. I have Ivan the Terrible, and a Bach CD but this by far has the best sound quality. After reading the other reviews I guess it could have a little more ambiance of the church mixed in but the instruments blend so well together, you are enveloped with sound. Every once in while you will notice a few weak spots in Rachel's playing but that just gives it more of a live feel. Otherwise it almost sounds too perfect. Great sounding SACD.

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Review by PeterJones April 5, 2005 (10 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
Awesome! This SACD was the first I ever listened to. I had just received my order from Amazon.com and popped in Podger's Vivaldi "La Stravaganza" into my new (cheap) SACD player not really expecting much. After the first few notes I was amazed. The sound was incredible. Such warmth and vitality...I didn't think recorded music could sound so good.

I spent most of my Saturdays as a teenager playing in chamber orchestras and symphonies (Mooredale Young Virtuosos Chamber Orchestra, Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra) and am familiar with the sound of a string orchestra from the inside and out. The same tangible presence was heard and even felt in the room listening to this SACD. Every time I listen to it I'm still amazed.

This SACD doesn't disappoint.

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Review by Beagle December 6, 2005 (14 of 15 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
About this recording:
If you were wondering which SACD recording of the Four Seasons to buy, or if you are a Rocker and think Music by Dead Guys is vaguely suited to funerals, or if you want to convince a potential mate that you have descriminating taste, or if you want to convince your present mate that all those dollars spent on SACD stuff are a worthwhile investment, or if you want to convince a friend that his/her CDs are So-Last-Century, or even if the latest medical tests indicate a potentially serious problem, then stop your fretting and buy and play this heaven-sent recording. From the first moment that the sound appears, you will understand: it's like chocolate, it's like 20 year-old scotch, maybe like Tiajuana Gold. Name your passion, it's what the Doctor ordered. Thirty-two of thirty-two SA-CD.net users agree: this is what ears are all about.

A note or two on the music:
Vivaldi hasn't always been with us. Or rather, he has been shoved into the back ranks of obscurity by such notables as J.S. Bach, who appreciated Vivaldi enough to pass off at least 10 Vivaldi works more or less as his own (copyright? what's that?). Antonio, il prete rosso, died in penury and lawsuits, and wasn't rehabilitated and hoisted into the firmament of Greats till after WWII. Like Indiana Jones, Alberto Gentili stumbled upon a treasure-trove of original mss in the 1920s, but everything had to wait while WWII rippled across Europe and Asia. Then in 1947, Casa Ricordi began publishing EVERYTHING, ably edited by one Gian Francesco Malpiero (who moonlighed as a composer in his own right).

It is remarkable that Vivaldi's works are of a musical calibre to attract the borrowing instincts of Bach, since the works were written for... schoolgirls, the nominal orphans of the orphanage where Antonio laboured to keep them in music, instruments and tune. If you have the good fortune to attend a good live production of any of his concerti, you will be astonished that such a rich tapestry of sound is woven by a quite modest number of players (unless, of course, you have the misfortune to watch an oversized orchestra try to waddle through the numbers). I say 'any' concerto, for they are all of a quality, high quality, makeing their sorting into 'periods' virtually impossible. The famous Seasons count for only 4 of Vivaldi's 600 or so concerti.

Arte dei suonatori -- Italian for Art of the ?Sonata -- are Polish. And new to me, but be warned: Move over Academy of St Martins-in-the-Fields! Rachel Podger is a young German who's been hanging 'round with Pinnock and the English Consort for most of the last decade. If you have been kissing a photo of Julia Fischer good-night each night, then by all means acquire a photo of Ms Podger as well. My own personal preference is for Podger's warm understatement, rather than Fischer's mathematical purity (fighting words?).

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Review by istvan December 28, 2005 (4 of 13 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Iím not a musician or academical critic but Iím a Vivaldi and Handel enthusiast. I love particularly the chamber recordings because they can reproduce the notes easily and the musicians can fit in my listening room behind the speakers. I was very exiting when I see on sa-cd.net this record on the first place of top recommendation among classical musics. I ordered it for Christmas and put it the player quickly. I can play only the CD layer of the hybrid disc therefore my opinion relates to red-book song.

Unfortunately I was very disappointed. This looks like to me that it is a modern and spectacular record. My highest displeasure is that all pieces sound too laud with too narrow dynamic. I can hear laud piano level from the instruments and from the record mixer. I can see all instruments separately but it seems to me the microphones are too near to musicians. No one could listen to so on live concert not either from the first row. This performance is a truly concerto. All instruments would like to overtake the others and the listener couldnít know who is the concertmeister.

Sorry if my opinion oppose to majority. I hope and expect much more refinements from like record that has so many awards:
Gramophone: Best Baroque Recording of the year 2003/ Stereophile: recording of the month/ Cd des Monats: Alte Musik Aktuell/ Choc du Monde de la Musique/ Diapason díOr/ Th3e Absolute Sound October 2003 Classics Today 10/10/ Luister 10 Gramophone Editors Choice

It may be the SA-CD level better but I afraid the tendency might be alike. I have in my CD collection much more natural records e.g.: Fonè, Alia-Vox, Chesky.

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Review by cacophony September 14, 2009 (2 of 18 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I think this particular SACD should get the award for most overrated. The sonics are not impressive with a flat 2 dimensional wall of sound, and very little separation between the instruments. There is no intimacy or subtlety with this recording. The content and performance are fine, but personally I find the Four Seasons a much more interesting piece of music.

There's just nothing exceptional about this 2 CD set and I think money is better spent elsewhere.

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Review by Musikus April 1, 2011 (3 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
I hate to be the voice of dissent in such matters - this recording has been almost universally praised, but I have personally been mystified in this. I humbly offer an alternate opinion for consideration..

By no means is it a "bad" performance, nor does it suffer from poor sound.. but I found the sonics to be average more than anything.. and would have to say the same for the performance. It is an evenly paced reading of the concertos, well articulated - but largely lifeless. It reminds me more of the older generation of Vivaldi period interpretation and lacks the energy and zest which more recent recordings have brought to his works. There is an edge to Vivaldi's music that needs to be brought out - in his lifetime he was considered by many to be something of a bizarre "avant garde" composer - and the extravagances of style and effect in his music can, and should, stand out just as boldly today in the right hands (Il Giardino Armonico and Concerto Koln come to mind) as it did then. Personally, I just don't find this here.

Take a listen and decide for yourself if looking for a recording of La Stravaganza - I dare say there may be an aesthetic divide forming on baroque performance practice and each one must decide for themselves what side of it they may fall on.

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