Claire de Sévigné soprano, Maria Soulis mezzo-soprano, Aradia Ensemble, Kevin Mallon
RV604, 606, 607, 627, 628, 631, 633
My first reaction to this CD was one of surprise. In a world packed with unperformed Baroque music, it is surprising to come across what I assume is yet another complete account of the sacred music of Antonio Vivaldi. So what do these Canadian performers bring to Vivaldi’s music which would necessitate another complete account of his church music? Well this CD is a testimony to the healthy state of period playing and singing in Canada. Claire de Sévigné’s singing in In turbato mare irato is spectacular – effortlessly virtuosic throughout the wide range it demands and beautifully sweet-toned. Her fellow soloist Maria Soulis has a fine warm mezzo-soprano voice, which has uncanny elements of the male alto about it. The playing and singing of the Aradia Ensemble, which turns out to embody a chorus as well as a string orchestra, is concise and delicate and under the direction of Kevin Mallon the performers demonstrate a profound understanding of Vivaldi’s oeuvre. The fact is that these performances are very persuasive indeed, and if somebody is to commit the complete sacred Vivaldi to disc, these are probably the best people to choose. For Vivaldi fans these are crisp fresh accounts of familiar repertoire, for those unfamiliar with Vivaldi’s vast sacred output other than the ubiquitous Gloria there are many delights in store, while for the parsimonious a new complete account of Vivaldi’s sacred music has its own delights. If I am stretched to answer my own original question about what these performances add to the sum of human knowledge about Vivaldi, the high standard of the singing and playing can only delight.
D. James Ross