Vivaldi The Four Seasons

"Highly recommendable – dynamic and dramatic."

Brilliant, unconventional and vain, it was Antonio Vivaldi’s boast that he c"ould compose a complete concerto in less time than it took to copy out the parts. Ordained as a clergyman, he sported a head of flaming red hair that earned him the sobriquet ‘The red priest’. As a composer and virtuoso violinist he was famed throughout Europe. "All in all this is a highly recommendable release, and a Four Seasons which may shake up a few preconceptions. The recording is clear and deep, with a bright but believable balance between soloist and orchestra."
Dominy Clements,

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"Almost by way of a post-script, the CD is completed by two violin concertos performed with panache and brio by David Juritz. Most readers will buy this disc for The Four Seasons but rest assured that the fillers are equally compelling... Radiant, beautiful and full of detail" John Whitmore,

“Compared with other leading modern-instrument versions .... Juritz’s account is markedly superior" The Times

“Refreshingly spontaneous ...among the most pleasing I’ve encountered ... Recommended, even to die-hard periodists” BBC Music Magazine

“A born rhetorician... telling a story... at every moment” Culture Kiosque

“David Juritz’s performance on this recording is simply scintillating ... full of virtuoso fireworks which Juritz takes completely in his stride” Nigel Pond

We all have our favourites when it comes to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons but, rather than thinking ‘oh no not another one’ I more often than not find I am rather relishing the excuse to have another listen to these masterpieces, and maybe encounter some new insights.
I can happily join in with Johns Whitmore’s very positive review of David Juritz’s Four Seasons. I greatly enjoyed his Bach and anyone capable of busking their way around the world playing the Sonatas and Partitas is deserving of attention when it comes to Vivaldi.

What I like about this recording is the lightness of articulation, range of dynamics and sense of drama in the music. The emphasis is less on the seeking of utmost refinement, and more in the sense of a ‘live’ and lively account which communicates on many levels. This is nicely pointed out in the booklet, where for each concerto there is a brief timeline with time-indicated descriptions of where certain moments are being described in music. I don’t remember encountering this anywhere before, and so for the uninitiated this can be a very easy way of finding out what the real descriptive intention and significance is behind each über-familiar passage. Most of us will know about the storm and barking dog in Spring, but if you’d never been bothered to find out you might not have realised there are some rather gruesome hunting scenes described in the finale of Autumn.
Not all things to all people of course, but I’m still a big fan of that character in Ottavio Dantone’s Arts recording of The Four Seasons I have to admit that on occasion Juritz gets as much intensity into the music and at times equal drama. Dantone’s dramatic approach is more flexible and operatic and uses a richer resource of sonorities where Juritz is challenging us to believe the notes can tell their story through thrust and conviction. I know this is a chalk and cheese comparison, but Juritz does achieve an ‘authentic’ feel from his players even though this is a modern instrument recording. Violins haven’t changed so very much since Vivaldi was being feted and reviled as the bad boy of Venetian music, so I don’t feel too much of a lack of legitimacy in picking out an ‘early music’ version by way of comparison.
There is little mention of the filler concertos with the other reviews but I rather like them. The orchestral violins are placed antiphonally either side of the soloist, and this results in a full sound and some striking imitative effects. The punchy finale to the RV 582 is terrific, and the first movement of RV 581 is like something by Handel, but with some remarkable added harmonic wrinkles to relish.
All in all this is a highly recommendable release, and a Four Seasons which may shake up a few preconceptions. The recording is clear and deep, with a bright but believable balance between soloist and orchestra.
Dominy Clements,

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