This disc from the budget line of France's Naïve label offers exciting music at an exciting price -- but a word of caution is necessary when dealing with music as generally familiar as these Vivaldi choral warhorses -- the Gloria heard here, although not identified as such, is the famous one (RV 589) with the opening octave fanfare in the strings. Recordings offered in budget reissues are often safe choices, middle-of-the-road performances calculated to satisfy a wide range of audiences who might be induced to pick them up as impulse purchases or simply as good value for the cash-strapped. This recording is anything but a safe choice; it's actually of the sort you'll either love or hate. It was originally released on the Opus 111 label in the year 2000. The conductor, Italy's Rinaldo Alessandrini, joins with his Concerto Italiano historical-instrument ensemble and a French choir, the cumbersomely named Akademia-Ensemble Vocal Champagne & Ardenne, to engage in some of Alessandrini's favored pastime of stripping away accretions of Romantic piety from the performance of Baroque works and restoring to them what he sees as their original visceral power. Part of this enterprise involves sharp contrasts in tempo. Alessandrini's fast movements are very fast indeed, and the opening "Gloria in excelsis Deo" chorus is as zippy as you're ever going to hear. Sample it to find out whether you're invigorated or annoyed. The thrust of Alessandrini's approach is to place opera at the apex of the hierarchy of musical genres of the early eighteenth century, and he stops at nothing in order to lend dramatic impact to the individual arias in these two works. He undeniably finds things in the Gloria that nobody else in the long rise of this work to popularity has never found before -- check out the dramatic impact of the "Qui tollis peccata mundi" section of the Gloria -- and in general these performances are crisp, edgy, and sensitive to small details in the music. They just may not be what you want to pick up for the holidays for someone who was raised on moderate, pleasantly festive versions of Vivaldi's Gloria. The two concertos that frame the Magnficat offer the curious listener a taste of Alessandrini's style in purely instrumental music.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Gloria, for 3 solo voices, chorus, trumpet, oboe, violin (ad lib), 2 violas, 2 cellos, strings & continuo in D major, RV 589|
|Concerto for strings & continuo in D minor, RV 128|
|Magnificat, for 4 vocal soloists, chorus, 2 oboes, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 610|
|Double Trumpet Concerto for 2 trumpets or oboes & continuo in D major, RV 781 (formerly RV 563)|