WORKS: Vespro della beata Vergine
PERFORMER: Janice Chandler, Karen Clift (soprano), Richard Croft, Lynton Atkinson, Brad Diamond (tenor), Christòpheren Nomura, Jeff Mattsey (baritone); Boston Baroque/Martin Pearlman
CATALOGUE NO: 2CD-80453
During the last two decades Boston Baroque and its director Martin Pearlman have established themselves in North America among the leading performers of Baroque music on period instruments.
Pearlman’s background as a director of stage works is everywhere apparent in this intensely dramatic account of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers: exploiting the recording studio as a sort of sacred stage, Pearlman makes full use of the work’s spatial effects, and draws some impassioned solo singing, vibrant choruses and truly thrilling instrumental playing. So, if the likes of Gardiner, Pickett and Parrott produce accounts that are either too neatly drilled, too polite or too Anglican for your taste, Pearlmandynamic rendition could well be a strong contender among daunting competition. The seven soloists are capable, if not outstanding, though sopranos Janice Chandler and Karen Clift produce a deliciously sensuous account of the motet Pulchra es. Sadly, though, tenor and bass soloists are often forced to over-project, resulting in telling signs of strain and occasional lapses in intonation. I suspect, too, that many will find their use of vibrato too excessive for this repertoire. Overall, these are small quibbles, though necessarily so with such a wealth of recordings from which to choose. Kate Bolton