> Vivaldi Stabat Mater Europa Galante [KM]: Classical Reviews- April2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Stabat Mater - Nisi Dominus
Stabat Mater dolorosa

Cujus animam (1:47)
O quam tristis (1:34)
Quis est homo (3:09) audio
Quis non posset (1:54)
Pro peccatis (1:33)
Eja Mater (2:26)
Fac ut ardeat (1:19)
Amen (1:08)
Nisi Dominus

Vanum est vobis (1:29)
Surgite postquam sederitis (1:37)
Cum dederit dilectis (3:51)
Sicut sagittae (1:45)
Beatus vir (1:34)
Gloria Patri (5:09)
Sicut erat (1:05)
Amen (1:44)
Longe mala, umbrae, terrores
Motetto in ogni tempo
Longe mala, umbrae, terrores (5:10)
Recedite, nubes et fulgura (0:33)
Descende, o coeli vox (7:55)
Alleluia (2:17)

David Daniels countertenor
Europa Galante
Fabio Biondi violin, viola díamore & direction
Lorenzo Colitto violin
Ernesto Braucher viola
Maurizio Naddeo cello
Sergio Ciomei organ
Francisco Jose Montero violone
Ugo Nastrucci theorbo
Rec: August 2001, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York.
VIRGIN VERITAS 5 45474 2 [55.25]

These three short sacred works, scored for alto, strings and continuo, are very small-scale, intimate works whose magnificent melodies are only accentuated by the austerity of their scoring. One could certainly perform this with larger forces, many more instruments, but the naked pathos of the Stabat Mater would be lost.

David Daniels has a dark voice, much richer in sound than many countertenors, whose voices can sound wispy at times. Daniels exudes strength and energy, he sings with force when necessary, but can also use a light touch. Not only is his voice intensely attractive, but his singing is so natural that one can only listen in pleasure to him, whatever he sings. He uses a bit too much vibrato for my taste at times - the Eja Mater, in the Stabat Mater, where he sings with just a minimal accompaniment is an example of this. The vibrato stands out all the more because of the accompaniment of just a single violin.

But there is something about the balance of the sound that shocks at times. While Europa Galante again shows its capacity to remain in the background and be, perhaps, the ideal small ensemble for accompanying singers - as it has shown in the past, especially with Cecilia Bartoli - it occasionally sounds too present. The organ, especially, tends to creep forward in the mix at times, giving a strange resonance when combined with Danielís voice. But the string sound is so rich and beautiful that one can easily forget these occasional glitches. Part of this could result from the ensembleís need to match the force in Danielsí voice; a lighter-voiced countertenor would be drowned out by such playing.

Nevertheless, this is one of those rare discs that carries you along from beginning to end as if on a subtle wave. The music flows so perfectly and is so full of emotion that it can give a shiver along the spine. This is, indeed, a magnificent and unforgettable recording.
Kirk McElhearn


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