Yo-Yo Ma, cellist; Sergio and Odair Assad, Romero Lubambo, Oscar Castro-Neves, guitars; Cesar Camargo Mariano, Helio Alves and Kathryn Stott, pianists; Paquito D;Rivera, clarinet; Pauo Braga, drums; Cyro Baptista, percussion; Nilson Matta, bass; Rosa Passos, vocals and guitar
SONY CLASSICAL SACD SS 89935 (F) (DDD) TT: (5.1 channel)

VIVALDI: La Stravaganza (Concertos Op. 4 Nos. 1-12)
Rachel Podger, violinist; Arte Dei Suonatori Baroque Orchestra
CHANNEL CLASSICS CCS SA19503 (2 CDs) (F) (DDD) TT: 54:21 & 48:38 (5 channels) (HYBRID)

Both of these are exceptionally fine in their own distinctive ways. Yo-Yo Ma has gathered together a representative group of Brazilian musicians performing a varied program. The famed cellist is heard in each of the sixteen selections. In addition to works by the familiar Heitor Villa-Lobos, Camargo Mozart Guarnieri and Antonio Calos Jobim, we have delightful works by lesser-known Brazilian composers, a wide range of delectable music in the popular vein, much of it subtle and understated. Sony's multi-channel recording puts the musicians in front with ambient sound from the back—it works well and this CD should appeal to many collectors—in spite of the fact that it has multi-fold-out booklet that is difficult to read and handle.

Vivaldi's set of twelve violin concertos Op. 4 is called La Stravaganza, all but one concerto having three movements, two lively outer ones separated by a largo or adagio. On occasion we hear the archlute, guitar, theorbe (a variety of lute), harpsichord and organ. The featured soloist, Rachel Podger, plays on a 1739 Pesarinius violin accompanied by the 17-member Arte dei Suonatori. All 7 violins and bass in this ensemble formed in 1993 perform on early instruments, the remainder on more modern instruments. Podger already has to her credit fine recordings of works of Bach, Telemann and Rameau; this release will only add to her stature. Channel Classics' multi-channel sound is broad and spacious with almost too much ambient sound but the overall effect is highly pleasing. Channel Classics SACDs are at the top end of the price scale fortunately on this set the two CDs are sold for the price of one. This is one of the best multi-channel recordings on this label.

R.E.B. (September 2003)