Occasionally, one of these Op. 3 concertos pops up on a compilation of Baroque “hits”, but here we have the complete set of 12–and we are fortunate to have these bright, lively, tuneful pieces performed with such engaging style and recorded with such vibrant sound. Francesco Manfredini, a contemporary of Vivaldi, rarely is mentioned among the Italian baroque’s major composers because he wrote comparatively few works and did not hold significant, musically influential positions. He didn’t innovate and his music doesn’t show any signs of experimentation, but he did have a knack for composing perfectly proportioned concertos, packing them full of attractive melodies, bouncy rhythms, and challenging solo parts.
Any one of these Op. 3 pieces could serve as a textbook example of the concerto grosso form, and these performances, too, could stand as a primer for how articulate, well-balanced ensemble playing should sound using modern instruments in Baroque music. Czech conductor Jaroslav Krcek’s dynamic yet unpretentious interpretations work very well, especially with such a responsive, enthusiastic orchestra–a Bratislava-based ensemble that proves as adept as anyone in this repertoire, even orchestras with bigger names and longer traditions.