WORKS: Cantatas, RV 653, 656, 662, 665, 667 & 796
PERFORMER: Nicki Kennedy (soprano); Modo Antiquo/Federico Maria Sardelli
CATALOGUE NO: TC 672209
Though Vivaldi’s sacred music encompasses a great variety of forms and settings, more than half is for solo voice. Suzie le Blanc’s new CD offers an attractive selection of pieces for soprano, from a gentle Salve Regina to the highly operatic and virtuosic Laudate pueri Dominum. Le Blanc’s clear, high soprano is pleasantly engaging but her voice can seem lightweight at times: her ‘O qui coeli terraeque serenitas’, for example, has little of the emotional power or dramatic nuance that makes Susan Gritton’s version so outstanding (on volume 5 of Robert King’s Vivaldi series). Teatro Lirico also sound a touch diffident, possibly the result of a sound balance that appears to favour a ‘flat’ perspective over depth of field. The booklet inadvertently omits several texts and prints the notes so close together they’re difficult to read.
The Tactus booklet has its failings, too, mixing up the playing order of these secular, mostly Arcadian cantatas (and there are no English translations included). The performances are similarly unsatisfactory. Nicki Kennedy sounds uncomfortable with the music’s more extreme technical demands, tending to shrillness in the higher parts of ‘Sorge vermiglia’ and generally lacking expressive subtlety, though she’s not helped by some pedestrian continuo playing. Graham Lock