I don't know how SPJ Music Inc., based in the world-famous town of Hauppaage, NY, manages to do it, but they have released at least 24 of these "25 XXXX Favorites" CDs, and all those that I have heard are superb collections. OK, many of the performances on this album are by ensembles that few will have heard of in North America, such as the Wurttemburg Chamber Orchestra, Musica di San Marco, and I Musici di Zagreb, and maybe they are a bit old (no recording dates are given), so SPJ probably doesn't have to pay much in the way of royalties. But this collection of works by Vivaldi is truly second to none.
Wait till you hear track 6, "Et in terra Pax from 'Gloria', by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, for instance, or track 14, from Stabat Mater Dolorosa, sung by Margarethe Bence with the Alto Pro Music Orchestra of Stuttgart. We are transported into the heights of the etherial world of sacred music, right up into the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, yet with that unmistakable touch of Vivaldi, who could be both consumately sacred and masterfully secular as he wished -- or even both at the same time. As has been proven again and again in the 20th century, Vivaldi was one of the greatest composers in history, and every classical music lover should have this CD in his or her collection.
I have a lot of Vivaldi recordings by period music ensembles like the virtuosic Il Giardino Armonico (who recorded the two best DVDs of Vivaldi works in existence, one with Cecilia Bartoli) and the somewhat more conservative Europa Gallante, led by Fabio Biondi. Then there are CDs by individual masters like Andrea Marcon (with the Venice Baroque Orchestra) and the immortal Nigel Kennedy (with the English Chamber Orchestra). Older classics re-released on CD include recordings by the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the Orchestra of the 18th Century, and the Romero family (Los Romeros). And the list goes on and on. All are superb recordings that have given me hours of pleasure.
But this "bargain" CD rates right up there with the best of them, and I highly recommend it both for those who are just beginning to discover the wonders of Vivaldi's music and for "hardened" veterans. If it had been issued as a full price CD it might have had trouble getting known in such a crowded and competitive field, but it would have deserved every bit as much praise as I have given it here. As a collection of superb performances of many of Vivaldi's greatest masterpieces by a wide variety of different ensembles, it even has something to commend it over recordings by a single artist or a single ensemble. Buy it and enjoy!