- Stabat Mater, hymn for voice, strings & continuo in F minor, RV 621
- Nisi Dominus (Psalm 127), for voice, viola d'amore, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 608
- Longe mala, umbrae, terrores, introduzione to Gloria for voice, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 629
Vivaldi wrote so brilliantly for instruments that one tends to overlook the high quality of his vocal writing. He clearly loved the sound of the human voice, and he knew how to show it off to great effect. Sometimes this is manifest in virtuoso passages, such as the final amen of the Nisi Dominus here, which demands both agility and lung power. But more often than not, the composer asks his singers to float an exquisite melody, using subtle shades of vocal coloring and a seamless legato -- enough to make a listener swoon. Countertenor David Daniels is certainly up to these challenges, and in showing off his own musical skill and sensitivity, he helps us to appreciate the beauty of Vivaldi's vocal writing. Of course, his voice is a wonder in and of itself -- thoroughly masculine and muscular yet with an appealing softness. He revels in the long, lyrical lines of the Stabat Mater, inflecting the phrases with a restrained expressiveness that surely would have made Vivaldi beam with pleasure. Add the accompaniment of violinist Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante, one of the leading Italian period instrument ensembles, and the result is an hour of musical bliss.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Countertenor David Daniels has no problem showcasing his versatility, as he joins forces this time with the seven-man ensemble Europa Galante, led by violinist Fabio Biondi, to provide a wonderfully satisfying performance of these three works by Vivaldi. The disc has the intimate feel of a chamber music recital, and the result is nothing short of a revelation. It paints a broad landscape of moods and textures ranging from the deeply melancholy and religious "Stabat Mater" to the nearly operatic "Longe mala". With the "Stabat Mater", one can almost see the Virgin Mary sitting at the base of the cross. My personal favorite is "Nisi Dominus" which allows Daniels to show his dramatic flair in a heartfelt expression of emotions - vigorous awe, sorrow and joy. His uncanny combination of a rich coloratura and a warm, honey-toned timbre allows him to stand head and shoulders above his countertenor brethren. What Daniels does so well is make an otherwise unearthly sound completely natural, and his incredibly flexible legato never feels out of control. Simply compare the ending "Amen" and "Alleluia" arias of the three pieces to gain a full appreciation of what this astounding singer can do with just one word. To say that Europa Galante simply accompanies Daniels would be a complete understatement, as their instruments appear to be full-fledged partners to his vocals. The match works beautifully, especially the string section, which appears to match his vocal intensity note for note. The collaboration makes for a breathtaking recording and yet another impressive milestone in the career of David Daniels.