Cello Concerto, for cello, strings & continuo in B flat major, RV 423
Cello Concerto, for cello, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 416
Cello Concerto, for cello, strings & continuo in A minor, RV 420
Sonata for cello & continuo No. 9 in G minor, RV 42
Cello Concerto in D major, L. 10
Concerto for cello, 2 violins, viola & continuo in D major
With its Progetto Vivaldi releases from Argentine cellist Sol Gabetta, Sony Classical seems to be trying to take back the spotlight from France's Naïve label and its gutsy, even tumultuous Vivaldi recordings. The attempt has no right to work as well as it does. Gabetta did not emerge from the early music world, only recently having taken up the gut-strung "Baroque" cello (she plays a 1781 instrument by the Neapolitan maker Gagliano), and even more recently learned the art of leading her own Cappella Gabetta ensemble. But this is a young musician who merits the collection of accolades that have come her way, and these are very strong performances. Gabetta does not quite go to the big, operatic extremes of some of the Italians, but these are nevertheless quite emotive performances with very affecting slow movements. She somehow puts herself into a frame of mind in which Vivaldi's ritornello structures seem to unfold startling new episodes, which is how they must have sounded to the composer's own audiences. She revels in unusual sonorities like the passage of low notes in the finale of the "Cello Concerto in G minor, RV 416" (track 6). And the icing on the cake is the inclusion of two unfamiliar concertos from composers of the post-Vivaldi generation, Leonardo Leo and Giovanni Benedetto Platti; the work by the latter is a world premiere. These concertos move in the direction of languid Classical-era melody, but each seems to back off from its modern mood with a strict fugue at the end. This is an enjoyable and absorbing program from beginning to end, and it would earn plaudits if it came from one of the veterans of the early music movement. In the tangible impact of that movement on a charismatic mainstream young performer, the movement might be said to have arrived.