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CD Feature/ Sol Gabetta: "Il Progetto Vivaldi"

img  Tobias

Authenticity is an important word for Sol Gabetta. After setting her mind on a Vivaldi project, she quickly decided that not only was she going to record it in Italy with Italian musicians, but she was going to equip her Italian Guadagnino-Cello (built only a few years after Vivaldi’s death) with gut strings and play it using a Baroque bow to get as close to the composer as possible. These are the typical traditions of original practise and Gabetta has taken great care of pushing them to perfection. And yet, authenticity is a double-edged sword, which needs to be pointed both at the work in question and yourself as a performer.

In this respect, Vivaldis Concertos are the ideal ground to test and taste the duality of this axiom: Virtuoso and performance-oriented, they tingle the instrumentalists’ ego and ambitions. On the other hand, the all-apparent, inseperable association with the time they were written in demands utmost delicacy and a well-founded knowledge of their background. The widespread assumption that if only you’re playing Vivaldi passionately, you’re automatically playing him right, can easily be dispelled as a fairy tale.

And Sol Gabetta is experienced enough not to believe in fairy tales anymore. She recognises the practical nature of these pieces, which Vivaldi wrote as practise material while teaching at the girls’ school of the Ospedale della Pieta in Venice. And then again, she refuses to accept that they are just a shining surface. Each single one of the concertos on “Il Progetto Vivaldi” rotates around the slow core movement, in which Gabetta disentangles the tightly tied knots of the fast-paced, dizzying and intoxiactingly melodic opening movement and paves the way for the resolution of the finale. Her “Largos” are entire worlds in themselves, which savour all the little harmonic frictions and chordal surprises. The clever play between tutti and compact instrumentations, which structure the outer movements, drenches these moments into a surreal and captivating light.

It is also interesting to note that Sol Gabetta on the one hand treats each concerto as a unique work, which deserves its own colouration and approach and simultaneously searches for possibilities to create a larger tension arch, which binds the loose ends together. From the elegant to the pompous, from the ethereal to the physical, from food for thought to careless joy, from progressive to traditional: The range of emotions, moods, tendencies and constructs is immense. And yet, they are all glued together by Gabetta’s inquisitive and resolute stroke and by the earthly timbre of the the ensemble as a whole – as well as of the entire production.

Next to the emphatic performance of the Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca, therefore, recording producer Dagmar Birwe is the secret star of the album. While she stays true to the organic sound of Sol Gabetta’s debut (which also signed responsible for), she has vivified it even more on this occasion by capturing the spontaneous nature of these sessions. Every breath, every finger-tap on the wood of the cello as well as every particle of the air between the players and the microphone is caught on tape, while maintaining perfect clarity. Essentially, “Il Progetto Vivaldi” sounds like a live recording without those distracting coughs and throat clearings.

The duality of autenticity, therefore, is a double-edged sword not only when it comes to interpreting the music, but in realising one’s vision as well. By relying just as much on her own capacities, as well as on those of some congenial partners, Sol Gabetta has created a second album, which manages to keep one just as hungry for more as her first. And which sounds every inch like a Sol Gabetta-album, while keeping that special Vivaldi-touch.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Sol Gabetta
Homepage: Sony BMG Masterworks

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