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"Its striking just how vividly Vivaldis instrumentation which dictates harmonic voicing and texture and melodic shape and compass reads against variant of the ritornello form much favoured by the composer. Nevertheless, preserving original instrumentation for the sake of an often spurious authenticity is less important than clearly expressing the underlying musical logic, preferably with due deference to both historical and contemporary performing conventions.
Its been just over 20 years since violinist and conductor János Rolla, violist Norbert Blume and the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra joined guitarist John Williams for the Sony recording titled John Williams plays Vivaldi concertos. Now they revisit many of the same works, this time with Danish born classical guitarist Peter Howard Jensen replacing Williams. The earlier recording is a hard act to follow: Williams playing is buoyant and incisive while the orchestras sound is appropriately transparent; a bonus is the inclusion of the Concerto for two mandolins, RV 532, performed on two guitars by Williams and Benjamin Verdery.
But Jensen, who in concert also enjoys performing guitar transcriptions of the works of Bach, Haydn and Schubert, has an immaculate technique allied with a full tone and brings to Vivaldi not only a restrained sense of drama but a sophisticated understanding of the tonal possibilities of the guitar in Baroque repertoire. This is apparent not only in the solo concertos, originally written for violin, but in the trios with Rolla, whose direction throughout is masterful and astute, and the D minor Concerto for viola damore and lute with the excellent Blume. And the bonus here? A gorgeous rendition by mezzo Tuva Semmingsen of Sovvente il sole from Vivaldis serenata Andromeda liberata."
Review from Gramophone, April 2012.