• Given its ubiquity, we risk forgetting the heady originality of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – until, that is, we hear it played by a dazzling interpreter. Every violinist wants to tackle these four-concertos-in-one, but keeping them fresh is a challenge. The German violinist Arabella Steinbacher was hesitant before going into the studio, “but then I thought, well, still this my first recording of it!”.
We should be glad she went ahead. Her Four Seasons (Pentatone) with the Munich Chamber Orchestra is intercut with Astor Piazzolla’s Four Seasons of Buenos Aires, written between 1964 and 1970. It’s an invigorating solution. Both soloist and ensemble approach the contrasting styles – baroque energy and bluesy Latin passion – with supple mastery, bows biting into strings, rhythms accentuated, mood at times aggressive. Vivaldi’s Summer, with its rushing storms and prickly, insect-ridden heat, sounds more than usually wild, with Steinbacher fearless in the rapid, high-flying outbursts. What a player.
• Now more than ever, musicians need to follow their spirit of enterprise. Without label or agent, the soprano Marci Meth has produced The Wild Song (Modern Poetics), a collection of Britten folk songs with pianist Anna Tilbrook, together with readings of seven of Yeats’s poems by Simon Russell Beale and atmospheric, watery interludes, specially written, by the film composer Mychael Danna. It was recorded at the Britten Studio, Snape Maltings and carries with it, in photographs in the beautifully produced booklet, a tribute to the Suffolk landscape and environment beloved of Britten.
Soft-launched last year, it has been released now to coincide with the (absent) Aldeburgh festival. Meth’s voice is silvery and unaffected: none of the arch artfulness to which these folk songs are sometimes subjected. They’re not always my favourite Britten works, but here take on a strong, expressive spirit which suits the moment. Meth took several years to complete this project. All praise to her, and to her three first-rate collaborators.
• One of the best routes to a musician’s inner life is Radio 3’s weekly Inside Music (BBC Sounds). Last week’s guest was the oboist and conductor Nicholas Daniel, discussing musical honesty and virtuosity, with great choices from Radu Lupu to Cleo Laine.