Vivaldi: Violin Concertos

If you like your Vivaldi fast and furious, the violinist Daniel Hope offers plenty of fireworks on his exhilarating new Deutsche Grammophon disc, dedicated to the Baroque composer?s music. The first movement to the Concerto in D Major (RV 234), “L?Inquietudine,” opens with explosive fervor — an energy level also displayed in the Concerto in E-flat, “La Tempesta di Mare,” whose difficulty Hope compares to some of Paganini?s music. But the disc is certainly more than just virtuosic dazzle: Hope plays with soulful introspection and quiet dignity in the melancholic slow movements, such as the haunting Largo from the Concerto in E Minor (RV 273). He is accompanied by the excellent Chamber Orchestra of Europe and a continuo group that includes the prominent harpsichordist Kristian Bezuidenhout and performers of the Baroque guitar and harp, theorbo and lirone (a bowed instrument). Hope uses a modern instrument but observes period practice traditions regarding phrasing and ornamentation and the use of minimal vibrato. The result is fresh, invigorating, and deeply expressive. The mezzo-soprano Anne-Sofie von Otter is the soloist in the one vocal excerpt: the gentle aria “Sovvente il sole” from Andromeda Liberata. Her heartfelt, richly hued singing is aptly complimented by Hope?s sweet-toned solos. The disc, which also features an elegant rendition of the Sonata in D Minor Op. 1 no. 12, “La Follia,” finishes on a dynamic note with a spirited performance of the Concerto in D Minor Op. 3, no. 11, which Hope often played as a teenager with his mentor, Yehudi Menuhin.