Nimbus has been reissuing the series of Vivaldi recordings made by Schlomo Mintz and the Israel Chamber Orchestra, previously released in the 1990's on the Musicmasters Label. This is the second volume of this venture and it offers a variegated mix of mostly unfamiliar concertos for solo violin, performed with stunning virtuosity, fetchingly sprung dance-rhythms and delightfully pointed humorous gestures. Rarely have I heard Vivaldi done with such élan on modern instruments. Some listeners may resist those very instruments in music of this period, to say nothing of Mintz's tasteful but pronounced vibrato. Nevertheless, I suspect everyone save incorrigibly dogmatic authenticists will find this generous bouquet of Vivaldi irresistible--especially in increments of three or four concerti per sitting. I was particularly impressed by the Israel Chamber Orchestra's crisp and polished playing, fully responsive to Mintz's lively direction. From their collective efforts, Vivaldi's music emerges, as it should, full of character and unpredictable invention; no suspicion of bland note-spinning here. My only caveat concerns occasional, but detectable, patches of questionable intonation on Mintz's part (something I've encountered elsewhere in his discography); but these are neither serious nor numerous enough to dampen my enthusiasm for this splendid set (and its companion volume, also available on this website).
Nimbus has evidently transfered the original recordings with care; the sound is crystal-clear, vividly present, with sufficient ambient warmth to cushion the steely effect of modern strings played with unabashed vigor and robust tone. Though I am not pleased with the flimsy jewel boxes in which Nimbus has none-too-securely housed the five CD's in this collection, in every other respect this set is a worthwhile investment. Vivaldi on modern instruments doesn't get much better than this.