D. Scarlatti: Vocal Works

Key2Singing, Margot Kalse
66:16
Aliud ACD BL 084-2
Laetatus sum, Stabat mater, Arias from Tolomeo e Alessandro

Looking back on it, the lack of quality control evident from the cover of the programme booklet advertising the ‘aria’s’ within should have been the first warning. The note inside the cover introducing this as a special CD featuring ‘an enthusiastic group of advanced amateur singers’ should have been the second warning. The third hint was the way in which after declaring that the label is ‘immensely proud’ of this release (protesting too much, methinks) Margot Kalse’s programme note goes on, like a schoolboy’s essay, to refer to Scarlatti as ‘Domenico’ throughout, as if she had known him personally. As it was, I read none of this, and so put on the CD without prejudice and was appalled by what I heard. I don’t think I have ever heard worse singing on CD.

Placing the massed voices at a distance in a generous acoustic was a blessing, but the inaccuracy of pitch, rhythm, precision and general bad taste was sadly still apparent. The overall standard of the singing is that of a bad amateur church choir with a pervading ‘little old lady’ vibrato and equivalent failings in the male voices. Some of the solo items are not quite as bad, but are still not good, and the instrumental playing, though clearly professional and generally good, is lost in the general malaise. I am horrified at the thought of this being on general release, available to be bought by enterprising listeners keen to hear the vocal music of Domenico Scarlatti. Not only will they not get any reasonable impression of what I know to be fine and imaginative repertoire, but probably like me they will have to go away and lie down in a darkened room to recover from this digital horror – which is exactly what I did! Do not buy this CD  and please warn all your friends not 2 2 – I have suffered enough 4 all of you…

D. James Ross