LABELS: ABC Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Bach, JS , Handel , Vivaldi
WORKS: Bach, JS: Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen BWV51; Handel: Laudate pueri Dominum HWV237; Vivaldi: Magnificat RV610
PERFORMER: Emma Kirkby (soprano); Cantillation, Orchestra of the Antipodes/Antony Walker
CATALOGUE NO: ABC 476 5255
Andrew O’Connor’s penetrating notes describe Kirkby as ‘The Gentle Revolutionary’ in the Early Music revival, a leader since 1973 in an extraordinary transformation of solo singing style. Comparison with her 1980s recordings of the Bach, Handel and Vivaldi throw the changes into high relief. Fast passages are a touch more reflective, less carefree and dangerous, though her pitching remains unerring. The sweet naïve clarity that wooed us all is enriched by alternative, more intense colours – her singing is more varied. Josie Ryan, a voice new to me, deserves special praise in the ‘Esurientes…’ duet of Vivaldi’s Magnificat; Australian oboes heighten the ecstasy of ‘Excelsus super omnes…’ in Handel’s Italianate psalm setting; the 21 voices of Cantillation are fresh and crisp in Handel, and wring every ounce of passion from Vivaldi’s ‘Et misericordia’. Hayes’s aria and chorus, new to us all, offer a charming vignette of Georgian England.
Recorded balance is questionable: the continuo organ is most imaginatively played, but its weight sometimes obscures the transparency of the textures. George Pratt