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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Magnificat in D, BWV 243 (1732-5) [24:04]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Gloria in D, RV589 (1715)
Barbara Hendricks (soprano); Ann Murray (mezzo); Jean Rigby (contralto); Uwe Heilmann (tenor); Jorma Hynninen (bass); John Constable (harpsichord); Gavin McNaughton (bassoon); Stephen Orton (cello); Christopher Laurence (double bass); Celia Nicklin (oboe d’amore/oboe); Christine Messiter, Lenore Smith (flutes)
Chorus of Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Laszlo Heltay
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields/Sir Neville Marriner
rec. 5-7 December 1990, No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London
EMI CLASSICS 2081252 [55:19]
Experience Classicsonline

Here we have two of the most popular short choral works harnessed together – unsurprisingly, not for the first time.  The Bach in particular has called forth a host of outstanding versions, with particularly fine ones from Kuijken, Gardiner and Koopman.  But the particular attraction of these interpretations by Marriner is that they use modern instruments - other than the harpsichord - and as such, this disc remains a major contender in the field, having rarely been out of the catalogue since the recording was originally made back in 1990.
 
All the elements are in place; Marriner has an excellent, multi-national team of soloists, though Barbara Hendricks’ rather icy style will not be to all tastes.  In fairness, this is not the repertoire we perhaps normally associate her with, but she is unfailingly musical and stylish in this context.  Uwe Heilmann is a somewhat throaty tenor, but he shows great sensitivity in his duetting with Jean Rigby in the lovely Et misericordia of the Bach (track 6). Rigby herself is superb throughout, her very lovely Domine Deus in the Vivaldi being one of the highlights of the disc (track 20). The excellent Academy Chorus sings with zest and fine tone, even if their ensemble is momentarily slightly ragged at the beginning of the great Gloria in the Bach (track 10).  The instrumental obbligati are all played with distinction, while the balancing of the orchestra allows trumpets and timpani to make the requisite impact without dominating unduly.  A final word should go to the continuo player, John Constable, who adds some lovely touches, notably in the delicious Esurientes of the Bach.
 
There’s little more to say. If you are looking for a non-period version of these works, you cannot go wrong with these: wonderful performances superbly captured by the engineers.
 
Gwyn Parry-Jones

 

 


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