Review: Robert Atchison, Sir Michael Gambon, Altamira Chamber Orchestra -
Vivaldi The Four Seasons - Music & Sonnets
|Artist:||Robert Atchison, Sir Michael Gambon, Altamira Chamber Orchestra|
|Album:||Vivaldi The Four Seasons - Music & Sonnets|
|Date of Release:||2011/10/15|
|Cat. No.:||GMCD 7375|
|Country of Release:||SU, UK|
|Sub-Genre/s:||Baroque, Chamber Music|
|Date of Review:||2013/01/13|
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons - Music & Sonnets
Robert Atchison's Vivaldi: The Four Seasons - Music & Sonnets with Sir Michael Gambon and the Altamira Chamber Orchestra was released on the Guild Music label in October 2011. While Guild Music does release a lot of extremely fine recordings, I can sadly only attribute it to less than excellent promotion and marketing that I only encountered this recording quite recently, by what are generally considered two national treasures, Robert Atchison and Sir Michael Gambon, the former also often described as Britain's finest violinist. Surely, a recording such as this, by artists of this caliber, should have been given maximum promotion!
Regardless, you may ask whether we really need yet another Four Seasons recording. The answer has to be most decidedly in the affirmative, where a recording of this quality is concerned! Also, recordings that include the sonnets generally attributed to Vivaldi himself, or, more precisely, his descriptive captions derived from these, are not anywhere near as common as recordings without them. Here, these are read by Sir Michael Gambon, in his wonderfully soothing baritone, in a translation by Jordan Lancaster. Gambon was recorded in a studio, while the music was recorded in a church. The differing acoustics, rather than being a distraction, greatly enhance the recording generally and Gambon's narrations in particular.
Having at least heard almost every single recording of The Four Seasons ever made (and countless live performances) and acquired dozens, including a few rather novel versions - most notably one superb one played on multi-tracked acoustic, electric and synth guitars by acclaimed jazz guitarist Nicolas Meier, reviewed on this site - Atchison's has clearly emerged as my preferred one. (And yes, I have to confess to always having been something of a Vivaldi and The Four Seasons specifically, nut. From youngest days this has always remained my favourite piece of music.) Again, I cannot comprehend why this outstanding recording was not promoted better, why I never saw it in my local super market!
The Altamira Chamber Orchestra was formed by Atchison in 2009, and this is their first recording. They are a small orchestra, with a 4-4-3-2-1 line-up plus organ/harpsichord (the latter manned by pianist Olga Dudnik, a regular accompanist of Atchison's), but as the old adage has it, size is not everything and they certainly have the resonance of a much larger orchestra. The instrumentation is modern rather than period, and Atchison makes no attempt at recreating the past, but rather recalls it with affection. The ACO supports beautifully.
The tempi are generally more restrained and sensible than in many other recordings, suiting Atchison to perfection, and certainly not the madly break-neck speed encountered in certain well known recordings - no names named. Atchison's tone is, as always, unique and sweet without straying into the saccharine. For his tone alone Atchison is always worth hearing. His soli are exquisite, here virtuosic and explosive while avoiding the excessive ornamentation so often heard elsewhere, there long, measured, sensitive and elegant. Indeed, Atchison practically oozes elegance and in this is perfectly matched by Gambon.
The recording is supplemented by Vivaldi's Concerto in E flat major Op.8 No.5 La tempesta di Mare (The Sea Storm). Another tone-setting of nature, this is a perfect match to The Four Seasons the performance of which it also matches in quality.
Over all, Robert Atchison's The Four Seasons is an exquisite and elegant recording, virtuosic without being so for the sake of it. It is a must have, even if you think you already have enough recordings of The Four Seasons. Forget the others, this is the one you must hear, must have, it is like no other. As ever, it clearly demonstrates why Atchison is at the top of the international music scene. Above all, this The Four Seasons is simply magnificent.
Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons - Music And Sonnets
Credits:Robert Atchison - violin, conductor
Sir Michael Gambon - narration
Altamira Chamber Orchestra
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons - Music & Sonnets can be purchased from:
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