Guy Fishman, principal cellist of the Handel & Haydn Society Orchestra, presents a brilliant and energized period-instrument performance of seven miraculous and seminal concertos by the Red Priest, Antonio Vivaldi. Fishman is accompanied by members of the H&H Orchestra.
Concerto for Cello in D Major, RV 403
|02||II. Andante e spiritoso|
II. Andante e spiritoso
Concerto for Cello in A Minor, RV 418
Concerto for Cello in C Minor, RV 401
|07||I. Allegro non molto|
I. Allegro non molto
|09||III. Allegro ma non molto|
III. Allegro ma non molto
Concerto for Cello in F Major, RV 410
Concerto for Cello in D Minor, RV 405
Concerto for Cello in B Minor, RV 424
Concerto for Cello in G Major, RV 413
Character is the word that comes to mind when I think of Antonio Vivaldi, that great son of Venice. The city is, of course, nestled in Italy, but Venetians aren’t really Italians. They’re Venetians. They speak their own language, eat foods unique to their former city-state, celebrate their own festivals. Their city’s great character is a reflection of their own. Vivaldi was one of them, and though he sought fame and fortune in travels far from Italy, he returned home to Venice, again and again. The city, which had at various points been a formidable economic, military, and political powerhouse, had by Vivaldi’s birth declined in those respects. But it had retained its cultural majesty and was a major tourist destination, much as it is today. Visitors bathed in its unique light and marveled at its graceful architecture, at the splendor of its theaters, and at the majestic music they heard. They must also have enjoyed the Venetians themselves, who I imagine to have equaled their city in richness of character.
Producer: Anne Black
Design and layout: Kathryn Waterman
Engineer: James Donahue
Recording location: Futura Productions, Roslindale, MA February 2014
Members of the Handel and Haydn Society
AISSLINN NOSKY, violin SUSANNA OGATA, violin
DAVID MILLER, viola
SARAH FREIBERG, cello ROBERT NAIRN, bass
PAULA CHATEAUNEUF, theorbo IAN WATSON, harpsichord
GUY FISHMAN is principal cellist of the Handel & Haydn Society, with which he made his Symphony Hall solo debut in 2005. He is in demand as an early music specialist in the United States and Europe, performing in recital and with Arcadia Players, Querelle des Bouffons, Boston Baroque, Apollo’s Fire, Emmanuel Music, the Boston Museum Trio, Les Violons du Roy, and El Mundo, among others. He has toured with the Mark Morris Dance Group and Natalie Merchant, and has appeared in recital with Dawn Upshaw, Mark Peskanov, Eliot Fisk, Richard Eggar, Lara St. John, Gil Kalish, and Kim Kashkashian. His playing has been praised as “plangent” by the Boston Globe, and “electrifying” by the New York Times. Mr. Fishman has recorded for the CORO, Telarc, Centaur, Titanic, and Newport Classics labels. This is his first recording for the Olde Focus label. He plays a rare cello made in Rome in 1704 by David Tecchler.
Founded in Boston in 1815, the HANDEL & HAYDN SOCIETY is internationally acclaimed for its performances and recordings of Baroque and Classical music. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Harry Christophers, H+H’s Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus delight more than 50,000 listeners each year at Symphony Hall and other leading venues in Boston.
Guy Fishman, principal cellist of the Handel & Haydn Society Orchestra, presents a brilliant and energized period-instrument performance of seven miraculous and seminal concertos by the Red Priest, Antonio Vivaldi. Fishman made his Symphony Hall solo debut in 2005, and is in demand as an early music specialist in the United States and Europe, performing in recital and with Arcadia Players, Querelle des Bouffons, Boston Baroque, Apollo’s Fire, Emmanuel Music, the Boston Museum Trio, Les Violons du Roy, and El Mundo, among others. He has toured with the Mark Morris Dance Group and Natalie Merchant, and has appeared in recital with Dawn Upshaw, Eliot Fisk, Gil Kalish, and Kim Kashakashian. His playing has been praised as “plangent” by the Boston Globe, and “electrifying” by the New York Times. He plays a rare cello made in Rome in 1704 by David Tecchler. Founded in Boston in 1815, the Handel and Haydn Society is internationally acclaimed for its performances and recordings of Baroque and Classical music. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Harry Christophers, H+H’s Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus delight more than 50,000 listeners each year at Symphony Hall and other leading venues in Boston. --Lisa Flynn
My regular readers know how little I respect most musicians who pursue the “Historically-Informed Performance” style of flat dynamics, straight tone strings and all that jaz, because I researched the Baroque and pre-Baroque era for a decade back in the late 1970s-early 1980s and learned that much of what they propose either never existed in that time or is an exaggeration of what was actually done. That being said, I have made exceptions for a handful of groups and individual performers who play in that style, among them Tafelmusik, the Boston Baroque, and any group conducted by Fabio Biondi, Marc Minkowski or the late Alan Curtis.
To that short list I must now add the Handel and Haydn Society, which plays with energy and enthusiasm. The cello soloist, Guy Fishman, is sort of a special case. He does play with straight tone, and in the slow movements I sometimes find his sound too wan for my taste; but he also plays with considerable flair and fire, turning these concerti into real showcases for his instrument. He almost makes you like the style because he is such an enthusiastic and committed musician within that narrow and ahistorical framework, thus you can appreciate his many virtues while admitting to his few weaknesses. At least he produces a full tone in slow sections most of the time, which compensates for his lack of vibrato.
More importantly, both Fishman and the ensemble approach these works with the enthusiasm of people who have discovered fire for the first time. I love the way they can turn their grupetti on a dime, making the music flow despite their strict adherence to the style. By doing so, the entire group makes you focus on what is going on in the scores and not notice the technique that leads to their musical conclusions.
As for the music, it is typical of Vivaldi in his prime, meaning short movements where single motifs are worked out satisfactorily but do not lend themselves to profundity. Igor Stravinsky once said that “Vivaldi did not write 400 concertos, he wrote the same concerto 400 times,” but this is clearly facetious Even within the seven concertos on this CD, there is great variety not only in key but also in thematic use and mood. Of the slow movements, I particularly liked the “Adagio” of the concerto in C minor for its expressive content, and the last movement in this concerto is quite inventive for Vivaldi, with several “leaning” harmonies that temporarily push the music out of its tonal center. But every movement on this astonishing album comes to vibrant life in the hands of these talented musicians—listen, for instance, to the opening of the Concerto in F, which they make sound like a big guitar enthusiastically strumming out the rhythm.
This disc is, quite simply, a gem, and I recommend it highly.
— Lynn Bayley, Art Music Lounge, 1.31.2017
With seven members of the Handel and Haydn Society, Guy Fishman invigorates and illuminates a brilliant selection of Vivaldi’s cello concertos, once more affirming the genius of the composer, the cello and historically-informed performances on period instruments.
Playing on a 1704 Roman instrument by David Techler, Fishman shows the mentoring effects of distinguished teachers from Laurence Lesser to Anner Bylsma: he possesses a gorgeous sound and always follows the long line—yet he knows his way around embellishments and filling out the continuo. Check out the magic in the slow movement of RV 418 and I guarantee you will be convinced. — Laurence Vittes, Huffington Post, 2.10.2017