"Here is a release which throws open a window on some of the most technically accomplished recorder playing that has come my way. Isaac Makhdoomi and his recently formed Ensemble Piccante offer us a programme of Vivaldi’s three concertos for sopranino recorder, as well as two others with programmatic content and the C minor Concerto for treble recorder, the composer’s finest contribution to the recorder repertoire.
The concertos for sopranino recorder and the C minor piece for treble recorder – or alto as it is termed here – call for advance virtuosity which Makhdoomi has at his fingertips. Fast movements are articulated with breathtaking definition while the lyricism of the slower ones is affectionately understood. This is perhaps especially evident in the two reworked concertos Il gardellino(goldfinch), and La notte (night) belonging to Vivaldi’s Op. 10. While Makhdoomi is a skilled improviser and embellisher I did not always find his imaginative responses entirely convincing.
The two principal remaining items are an aria, by Vivaldi, from a likely pasticcio, Andromeda liberata, sensitively sung by countertenor Arnaud Gluck, and another from the first act of his Roman opera Giustino. Rather perversely, although this too lies within the alto range, Makhdoomi usurps the vocal part for himself, necessitating key transposition. The Largo of Winter, from the Four Seasons, with extensively ornamented and invented repeats rounds off a remarkable tour-de-force. Recorded sound is excellent and the disc version is accommodated in an attractive booklet form with an informative essay by David Lasocki."