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Posted September 30, 2011
IL PRETE ROSSO - Antonio Vivaldi - Membran
The Italian word "abbondanza" means abundance and could aptly be applied to both the written works of Vivaldi and to this 10 CD set. With recordings made between 1988 and 2004 by 8 different musical ensembles, this collection includes works for strings (with and without orchestra), violin, oboe, bassoon, flute, mandolin and lute. In addition, the last 3 discs contain vocal works in cantata form, as well as liturgical and operatic music, the latter of which is sung by a male soprano.
On the plus side, the various musical groupings all perform admirably, with all the taste and skill one might expect of European (especially Italian) musicians. Also, it's a pleasure to hear Vivaldi's music played by people mindful of Baroque performance practices.
Finally, kudos to the assorted (and uncredited) recording engineers; considering that these recordings were made over a 16 year time span at, presumably, a variety of locations, there a uniformly excellent sound quality to this entire project.
On the minus side, the lack of liner notes is a major drawback. All that's listed is the name of the piece, the orchestra, the conductor, and, sometimes, a principal player or vocalist. Background information on the various compositions and musical ensembles would have been helpful; the lack thereof seems particularly curious in a project that tries as hard as this one has to be comprehensive. The same might be said for the lack of any of Vivaldi's works for recorder.
All told, this boxed set should appeal to those just getting started collecting up a classical music library, as well as hardcore Vivaldi fans. At a retail price of around $5.00 per disc, "Il Prete Rosso" is a bargain well worth considering.
Recommended 8 out of 10 Oscar O. Veterano