Fresh Sound for Vivaldi Bassoon Concertos

Antonio Vivaldi wrote 39 bassoon concertos. So undertaking a complete traversal of them is no mean feat. Mauro Monguzzi is off to a good start with this volume. He plays with a rich, full sound. And his bassoon can nimbly dance up and down the instrument’s range when needed.

His ensemble features members of the Teatro all Scala supplemented by harpsichord. The ensemble blend is (to my ears) a little unusual. Basso continuo usually consists of two instruments — the cello and the harpsichord.

Here it’s three: cello, harpsichord, and double bass. That last instrument gives the ensemble sound a robust bass line. And it’s a fuller sound than I expect from a Baroque ensemble.

The harpsichord is somewhat buried in the mix. The result makes these pieces sound like works for bassoon and string sextet. It’s not a bad sound at all. And one that can make for a refreshing alternative to most early music ensemble readings.

Monguzzi is a first-rate musician. I quickly got past the unusual sound of the ensemble and focused on his playing. And that made this release an enjoyable listen. I’m up for volume two now!

Antonio Vivaldi: Complete Bassoon Concertos, Vol. 1
Mauro Monguzzi, bassoon
Members of the Teatro alla Scala; Giovanni Brollo, harpsichord
Bongiovanni GB 5639-2

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