STYLE: Choral RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 17763- LABEL: Hyperion 66779 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1
Reviewed by John Irvine
Way back in CR29 I enthused about the first release in a new series of recordings from the wonderful King's Consort, one of Britain's finest "period music" groups. While Vivaldi is listed in a number of music dictionaries as the man who wrote the same concerto 400 times, this new series should go some way to enabling us to re-evaluate Vivaldi as not just the man who got lucky with a good tune in the "Four Seasons", but as a serious, indeed major, composer of sacred choral music. As a Roman Catholic priest with a great gift for music performance and composition, one might have expected Vivaldi to have composed music both for the Church and for "spiritual concerts" and other public occasions with a religious theme. This second volume turns to small scale works intended for a solo voice and accompaniment. One musicologist has described these motets as being concertos for voices. The description is apt each motet is set in a number of sections or movements at contrasting tempos, and there is an element of showiness not entirely appropriate to Church music which would have at least appealed to performers if not to listeners! There is certainly drama a-plenty: "Longe Mala" starts by wishing that the woes of this world would disappear and as if on cue, the rumbling and dramatic fury of the first movement melt into the tranquil peace of Heaven. In contrast, "Clarae Stellae" is a wonderfully light weight piece, which countertenor James Bowman launches into with great joy. There is much here for those partial to the baroque era as well as those whose curiosity has been piqued by the prospect of a whole series devoted to Vivaldi's little known vocal music. Volume 1 of this series set very high standards in terms of musical excellence, conviction, passion, unity of spirit and direction; I am pleased to report that these standards have been upheld magnificently. I look forward to future installments.
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