Vivaldi is best known as a composer of concertos, but it is essential to recognize his importance in the development of the concerto genre as a whole. When he published "L'estro armonico" Op. 3 with Amsterdam publisher Etienne Roger in 1711, the form was no more than about 30 years old.
A collection of 12 concertos for strings and continuo, this "Harmonic Fancy" became the most influential musical publication of the first half of the 18th century, helping to establish the standard three-movement structure (fast-slow-fast) and the use of ritornello form in the concerto.
The 1981 Decca recording of the Academy of Ancient Music lead by founder and harpsichordist Christopher Hogwood is beautifully rendered. Of particular interest is the inclusion of Six Concertos for Flute, Op. 10, which open this two-disc set.
The first set of flute concertos published in Italy and one of the first ever published, Op. 10 is a fine example of the sizable number of concertos Vivaldi wrote for instruments other than violin. Varied and delightful, the composition at times strips down from rich tutti to solo flute and continuo for a tantalizingly exposed sound.
-- Arielle Basile