“The songs posess a timeless charm and pith that are captured with effortless grace by the remarkable lutenist Ronn McFarlane” ~TIME
Posted Sep 04, 2011
Ronn McFarlane's lute is ever present in this varied and pleasurable programme
Vivaldi's output is so vast that listeners have opportunities to hear only a fraction of the composer's creative gifts. So this new disc by the Bach Sinfonia, which is based near Washington DC, provides pleasurable engagement with music beyond the famed climatic concertos and other works that have raised the composer to such a high status. The recording's title, The Art of Vivaldi's Lute, may be a bit misleading, since that delicate instrument comes to the fore only in a portion of the programme. But the lute is present throughout the music-making, both in solo and secondary roles, and it can have no better champion then Ronn McFarlane, whose playing is the epitome of grace and rhythmic animation.
McFarlane is very much the protagonist in the Concerto in D major for two violins and lute, RV93, in which the lute weaves lilting material in conversation with the other soloists. It's possible for the dulcet-voiced lute to get lost amid string textures but the conductor Daniel Abraham and his ensemble maintain balances that promote articulate interplay. Each work receives distinctive treatment, among them the Concerto in D minor for viola d'amore, lute, strings and continuo, RV540, in which William Bauer's invigorating viola d'amore artistry meshes vibrantly with McFarlane's elegance.
There's also a chance to hear Vivaldi in motet mode. Soprano Jennifer Ellis Kampani is the expressive, nimble soloist in In turbato mare irato in tandem with the Bach Sinfonia's refined flexibility.