- Concerto for 4 violins, cello, strings & continuo in B minor ("L'estro armonico" No. 10) Op. 3/10, RV 580
- Sinfonia al Santo Sepolcro, sonata for 2 violins, viola & continuo in B minor, RV 169
- The Four Seasons (Il quattro stagione), concertos (4) for violin, strings & continuo ("Il cimento" Nos. 1-4) , Op. 8/1 - 4
Conducted from the violin by Americo-Canadian leader Jeanne Lamon and originally recorded in 1992, this recording of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" violin concertos was one of the first that put Canada's burgeoning historical-performance scene on the map. It's far from perfect, but heard two decades on it still holds up well. The early 1990s marked perhaps the high point of popularity for these concertos, with hundreds of versions on the market, and coming up with a standout interpretation was a tall order. But Lamon's reading was and remains unusual. With 11 violins, Lamon can get a big, differentiated sound out of her Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, and the four concertos vary considerably in style, with violent thunderstorms in summer and a kind of clunky galant loping gait in the first movement of "Spring." (Sony's attractive new packaging includes the programmatic sonnets on which the concertos are based.) One might not agree with every detail of Lamon's reading, but there's an X factor working in her favor here: she has a real sense of the radical, boundary-breaking quality of Vivaldi's style and of the ways in which it looked to the future. The diversity is apparent likewise in the continuo, with harpsichord and archlute trading off lead roles and giving a sense of activity that's notable in the early 2010s and rare indeed in 1992. Less successful aspects include some of the orchestral voicings (Lamon seems to have a fascination for inner lines even when they're not undertaking anything especially significant), Lamon's own violin, which is solid but not quite a match for the variety going on in the orchestra, and most problematically the sound from a Toronto-area church, which marries harsh engineering to the defects of early CD sonics. These aspects notwithstanding, this remains a lively "Four Seasons" outing that's full of good ideas.