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Sharing releases, present and past, to brighten your day. WXXI Classical has its eyes and ears on the latest releases from classical artists working today. When we come across a story or a release we think you might enjoy, we’ll be sharing it with you on CD Spotlight. You’ll learn more about the artists online at WXXI Classical, and you’ll hear selections from these artists on FM 91.5. CD Spotlight shares new releases by artists that you’ll want to know and some by great artists and ensembles that deserve to be in the spotlight again.

CD Spotlight: Vivaldi Violin Concertos, 'Per Anna Maria'

When you think of Vivaldi’s concerti, you may think of delicate, refined performances that please and delight the senses. But listen to Europa Galante and you will have an altogether different experience. Their performances grab you by the throat and pull you on a wild journey through this well-known repertoire.

Violinist Fabio Biondi founded the group Europa Galante in 1989 to perform music of the Baroque and classical eras, and he often plays the solo violin part in the many recordings they have made of concerti, particularly by Vivaldi. They have become especially associated with his Four Seasons concerti, and bring to the works an aggressive energy that takes advantage of the somewhat more grating and percussive sounds that come with playing on gut strings rather than modern steel ones.

Their newest release of the Vivaldi Concerti ‘Per Anna Maria’ is a welcome entry in this energetic catalog, and it also shows their early music bona fides: it was made from a collection of hand-written manuscripts in the Foà and Giordano collection that attest most directly to Vivaldi’s compositional decisions. The concerti on this album were all written for Vivaldi’s star student Anna Maria, who had a reputation throughout Europe as a stellar violinist. Listening to this recording invites images of a fabulous young student at the Ospedale della Pietà simply blowing the roof off of every concert hall she visited—an exciting, engaging take on classics that may well become your next favorite recording.

A native of Herndon, Virginia, Steve came to Rochester to earn his Ph.D. in Musicology at the Eastman School of Music. He has loved classical music and public media since his youth, and has worked for years to make classical music more accessible on social media.