This is not one of Savall’s
elaborately themed CD-Books, though it is packaged in a bookbound album of
standard CD size. It belongs rather to the series of “Academies” concerts
from 2011 to 2016. The music in this one comes from performances in May and
June of 2015. The order of selections is Vivaldi-Mozart-Handel, but I have
arbitrarily chosen to file it under Handel.
His setting of the popular Vespers Psalm (109 or 110) is the earliest item
here. It was composed in Rome in 1707 and is generally acknowledged as
Handel’s first great choral masterpiece—it is certainly the standout item
here. Vivaldi’s setting, R 595, seems to date from 1717 while he still
served as music director at the Pieta foundling home. From 1774 come the
isolated Vespers components, the opening Psalm and the concluding Magnificat,
constituting Mozart’s K 139. They are the shortest pieces here, but the most
richly scored (brass and timpani plus the strings).
<![endif]>One does not think of Savall as a choral conductor, but he knows
his 20-voice chorus and his 19-member orchestra well and gets rousing,
bubbly performances from them. His soloists are uneven, however, and
somewhat compromise the total effect. These are, to be sure, enjoyable
performances, but all this music can be had in other recordings, with
particular competition in the Handel. This combination of works is not
unique either. Not long ago I reviewed a Harmonia Mundi release (807587: J/A
2013) that combined the Handel score with a different Vivaldi setting and
one of his finest cantatas—a program that might be measured seriously
against this new one.
<![endif]>Good multilingual notes, full texts and translations, and 33 pages
of promotion of other AliaVox releases.
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