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American Record Guide: (07/2017) 
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Alia Vox

Code-barres / Barcode : 8435408099189(ID588)


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Reviewer: John W. Barker

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).

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.

Good multilingual notes, full texts and translations, and 33 pages of promotion of other AliaVox releases.


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