- This superb Vanguard recording of one of our favorite performances of the work boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
- This pressing has all the qualities that make analog so involving and pleasurable — the warmth, the richness, the naturalness, and above all the realism
- The sound here has the power to transport you completely, with solid imaging and a real sense of space, qualities that allow us to forget we are in our listening rooms and not in the concert hall
Folks, we have some good news for those of you who have been waiting for one of the best-sounding, most beautifully performed Four Seasons ever recorded. Let’s just say that this small ensemble recording is as close to perfect as any we have ever heard. The harpsichord is especially good on the Vanguard recording, better than the RCA I would venture. Its placement in the soundfield is subtly natural, precisely the way one would expect to hear it in performance.
All four movements are performed with great spirit, and other than a sour note right at the start — listen for it! — the playing is of the highest quality. I prefer the performance — slightly — to the famous RCA.
This vintage Vanguard pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the Best Sides of The Four Seasons / I Solisti Di Zagreb Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1957
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We’re Listening For on The Four Seasons / I Solisti Di Zagreb
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Allegro Non Molto; Allegro
Allegro Non Molto
I Solisti di Zagreb
Current bio for the group:
Founded: 1953 – Zagreb, Yugoslavia
Founded in 1953 as an ensemble of the Zagreb Radio and Television under the artistic leadership of the renowned violoncellist and conductor Antonio Janigro, the ensemble I Solisti di Zagreb (= ISDZ, Zagreb Soloists) managed to achieve their goal trough hard work and absolute dedication – they became one of the prominent chamber orchestras in the world.
The Zagreb Soloists have performed without a conductor since 1968 (led by the concert-master Dragutin Hrdjok) and they found their longtime artistic director and concertmaster Tonko Ninić. In 1997 the same position was filled by Anđelko Krpan, in 2002 the artistic director of the ensemble was Karlo Slobodan Fio, while in the jubilee season, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the ensemble, the role of concert-master is once again played by their longtime leader, maestro Tonko Ninić. From March 2006 concert-master and artistic leader is Borivoj Martinic-Jercic. Most ensemble members graduated from the Academy of Music in Zagreb and share virtuosic mastery of their instruments, remarkable discipline as well as incredible enthusiasm and love for ensemble playing.
They have given over 3,000 concerts in all continents, thus winning recognition as well as public and critical acclaim in the major centers of music and famous concert halls, such as Musikverein (Vienna), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), the Royal Festival Hall (London), Berlin Philharmonic Hall (Moscow), Santa Cecilia (Rome), Salle Pleyel (Paris), Carnegie Hall (New York), Opera House (Sydney), Victoria Hall (Geneva), Teatro Real (Madrid), Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires), etc. They have also given regular guest performances in the best known music festivals, such as Salzburg, Prague, Edinburgh, Berlin, Bergen, Barcelona, Istanbul, Prades, Ossiach, Dubrovnik, and others. The ensemble has played with many great soloists like Henryk Szeryng, Alfred Brendel, Christian Ferras, Pierre Fournier, Leonard Rose, James Galway, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Aldo Ciccolini, Katia Ricciarelli, Lily Laskine, Zuzana Ružičkova, Mario Brunello, Isabelle Moretti, Guy Touvron, and many others.
The extensive repertoire of the Zagreb Soloists includes baroque, classical, romantic and contemporary works, while special attention is given to the opus of Croatian authors, both the past and the contemporary ones. They have recorded over seventy LP’s and CD’s for Vanguard, EMI, RCA, ASV, Eurodisc, Melodia, Hispa-vox, Pickwick and Croatia Records.
The Zagreb Soloists have received recognition and numerous prestigious awards including the following: the 1st prize in Mar de Plata (for the album The 18th Century Concertos), the Pablo Casals Medal, the Elisabeth Sprague Coolidge Medal (for the performance of contemporary music), the Vladimir Nazor, Milka Trnina, Orlando Awards (for the best performance of a Croatian work), the Ivan Lukačić Award given by the Varaždin Baroque Evenings, then the Villa Manin and UNESCO Awards, the City of Zagreb Award (twice), a Silver CD present by the record company Croatia Records, the Order of National Merits, the City of Zagreb Plaque, several Croatian music awards Porin, a silver plaque of the Jeunesses Musicales, and many others.
During the Croatian War of Independence the Zagreb Soloists gave about seventy benefit concerts (to raise funds for Dubrovnik, destroyed schools of music in Croatia, then for the destroyed building of the National Theatre in Osijek, Children’s Hospital in Zagreb, devastated Croatian churches and monuments). They also played series of concerts to celebrate the newly-independent Republic of Croatia.
They represent history on the concert stage. The dimension of their global achievement in chamber playing, that is in favor of spiritual quality of life, during their existence is so large that only their ensemble playing, which began in the meantime, returns us back to these days which once again acknowledge the above mentioned appeal of the acquired right to be considered an institution
Wikipedia on The Four Seasons
The Four Seasons (Italian: Le quattro stagioni) is a set of four violin concertos by Antonio Vivaldi. Composed in 1723, The Four Seasons is Vivaldi’s best-known work, and is among the most popular pieces of Baroque music. The texture of each concerto is varied, each resembling its respective season. For example, “Winter” is peppered with silvery pizzicato notes from the high strings, calling to mind icy rain, whereas “Summer” evokes a thunderstorm in its final movement, which is why the movement is often dubbed “Storm.”
The concertos were first published in 1725 as part of a set of twelve concerti, Vivaldi’s Op. 8, entitled Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’inventione (The Contest Between Harmony and Invention). The first four concertos were designated Le quattro stagioni, each being named after a season. Each one is in three movements, with a slow movement between two faster ones. At the time of writing The Four Seasons, the modern solo form of the concerto had not yet been defined (typically a solo instrument and accompanying orchestra). Vivaldi’s original arrangement for solo violin with string quartet and basso continuo helped to define the form.