Vivaldi: Nisi Dominus; Stabat mater; Salve regina, RV 616; Concerto for Strings in D minor, RV 128; Sinfonia in B minor, RV 169

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COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Archiv
WORKS: Nisi Dominus; Stabat mater; Salve regina, RV 616; Concerto for Strings in D minor, RV 128; Sinfonia in B minor, RV 169
PERFORMER: Michael Chance (countertenor)English Concert/Trevor Pinnock
CATALOGUE NO: 453 428-2
Rediscovered only in the last fifty years, Vivaldi’s sacred music may ‘perhaps even surpass the glorious instrumental music that has made his reputation’. HC Robbins Landon’s 1993 claim is amply substantiated by Robert King’s excellent Hyperion series. Vol. 3, like Vol. 1, focuses on large choral works, notably here the grand, richly inventive Beatus vir, RV 597, for six soloists, double choir and two orchestras, and the brief Domine ad adjuvandum, a rapt soprano solo between thrilling exchanges for double choir that Michael Talbot reckons is the ‘most perfect’ of Vivaldi’s sacred works. Performances and recording quality are exemplary.

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The Archiv disc features three of Vivaldi’s most popular sacred pieces for solo voice, sung here by countertenor Michael Chance, who combines gorgeous tone quality with superlative technique. Yet these performances are disappointing: tempos are sometimes quirky – much of the Salve regina seems indulgently languorous – and the muted plushness of the sound verges on the soporific. Less laid-back versions – of Nisi Dominus by Christopher Robson (Meridian), of Salve regina by Gérard Lesne (Veritas), of Stabat mater by Andreas Scholl (Harmonia Mundi) – offer considerably more of the ‘fervour, exaltation, and mysticism’ (Talbot again) that impels this ravishingly beautiful music. Graham Lock