A few reviews ago, I slammed a performance of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" by a violinist I respect very much for his performances of contemporary music, Joshua Bell. I offer this recording, by Concerto Italiano, far better known as a vocal ensemble, of concertos by Vivaldi and his close competitor Benedetto Marcello as a model of stylish, historically informed but not slavishly "authentic", Baroque performance at the highest level. There is also a concerto in the Italian manner by JS Bach on the program, but many listeners will find it puzzling. The piece is in fact an "Italian" concerto orchestrated by Rinaldo Alessandrini, based on Bach's well known harpsichord solo Italian Concerto. The 'justification' is that all the concertos by Marcello and Vivaldi performed here were transcribed by Bach himself for performance on solo harpsichord. Obviously there's a bit of musicological hubris in action on this CD; to my ears, it adds to the fun.
Integration. Coherence. Continuity. Those are the qualities of Alessandrini's interpretations of these concertos that make them convincing as music. Above all, the solo instrument - violin, oboe, flute - is integrated into the orchestra, not at odds with it. the music is truly "concerted." Then, performance decisions - of tempo, of fermatas, of dynamics, etc. - are all coherent with the total affect of the piece; there are no effects determined merely by the fingers or the bow. Last, there is intense continuity through the formal structure of the baroque concerto, through the standardized succession of three movements, with a largo movement in the middle and a rondo movement last. "Dey gotta sound like dey goes togedda," as the great Baroque boxer Rocky the Italian Stallion would say.
There are plenty of good Vivaldi recordings on the market, but Marcello is a neglected master. This is one of only three or four solid performances of his work. It's a CD, I predict, that you'll play often.