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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger


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Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741)
Introduction to the Gloria, RV 639
Gloria RV 588
Stabat Mater for alto solo, RV 621
Marjon Strijk (soprano)
Sytse Buwalda (alto)
Marinus Leusink (tenor)
Jeroen assink (bass)
Pieter Affourtit (violin)
Marten Boeken (violin)
Orzse Adam (viola)
Bernadette Verhagen (viola)
Peter Frankenberg (oboe)
Eduard Wesley (oboe)
Susan Williams (tromba)
Fank Wakelkamp (cello)
Vaughan Schlepp (organ)
Holland Boys Choir
Netherlands Bach Collegium
Pieter Jan Leusink (conductor)
Recorded July 2001

Unless you know the difference between Gloria RV588 and Gloria RV589, you will not realise that this disc contains a performance of Vivaldi’s lesser known Gloria in D major. Written at about the same time (between 1713 and 1719) it shares thematic material with its better known companion. Here, Gloria RV588 is correctly preceded by the Introduction (Introduzione in D major, Jubilate o amaeni, RV639) in its version for Alto solo. The companion piece to the Gloria is the ravishing Stabat Mater. All well and good, the stage seems to be set for an enjoyable recital.

The Netherlands Bach Collegium is a fine period instrument ensemble and throughout this disc they give a lithe performance with well sprung rhythms. Unfortunately, this stylish impression is dispelled when counter-tenor Sytse Buwalda starts the vocal part in the Introduction. He has problems with both passage-work and tuning which creates a fatal opening impression which is not entirely dispelled by the remainder of the Gloria. The choir make a fine, clear sound and in the concerted passages deliver a shapely performance. In a number of passages marked Coro in the notes, Leusink seems to use an ensemble of the soloists which is less successful in terms of the balance and blend of the voices. There were also a number of moments when the choral altos seemed to develop a distinctive edge their tone, which I did not like. I am afraid that, for me, this rather soured what would otherwise have been a fine performance. The chorus ‘Et in terra pax’ is harmonically fascinating but the profoundly untidy descending scales in the choir rather ruin the effect. The Soprano and Alto duet, ‘Laudamus te’ is a wonderful dance, performed with admirable bounce by the orchestra. In this movement, the Alto part sounds remarkably like a 2nd Soprano part. Tenor, Martinus Leusink, gets one aria which he sings in an undernourished tone and he could be more stylish. In addition to the duet, Soprano Marjon Strijk gets two arias. She has an attractive light voice and makes a stylish soloist in her arias. In her first one, ‘Domine Deus’ she is complimented by a lovely oboe solo. Unfortunately in his solos Buwalda reinforces the impression gained in the Introduction. He sings his solo, ‘Qui sedes’, in a shapely manner but the aria is marred by tuning problems. Whilst I was not always convinced by some of the other choral movements, the choir give a strongly powerful performance of the great final fugue.

The Netherlands Bach Collegium gives a ravishing performance of the introduction to the Stabat Mater. Buwalda seems to be in better voice here, both tuning and passage-work are quite acceptable. This work seems to suit him better, or perhaps it was just that more recording time was given to this piece. It would make an admirable filler if only the performance of the ‘Gloria’ was better. But Buwalda’s style and vocal control hardly compares to that of Andreas Scholl in his fine recording. And it should be remembered that this work was probably written for a female alto at the Pieta. So there is no reason to shy away from recordings of this work by women and every reason for counter-tenors to convince us (as Scholl most emphatically does).

Robert Hugill

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