The nuanced and lively playing Emmanuelle Haïm draws from Le Concert d'Astrée is the strongest element in this recording of Bach's Magnificat and Handel's Dixit Dominus. Its colorful, briskly articulated performance is a delight throughout, but the singing of the soloists and chorus lacks the same consistency. The chorus' sound is somewhat murky and doesn't have either the blend or the linear clarity this repertoire requires. Most, but unfortunately not all, of the solo work is beautifully executed, with several lovely individual performances marred by a jarring blooper or ill-conceived interpretive choice. Soprano Karine Deshayes handles Bach's long melismatic lines with remarkable smoothness and breath control, but drops a note, very obviously. Soprano Natalie Dessay sings with her typical purity and incisive clarity, but she lurches into the final cadence of her Bach aria with such surprising vehemence that it gives a jolt. The alto parts lie low for Philippe Jaroussky, and while he negotiates them gracefully, there are only glimpses of the brilliance and sensuousness he characteristically brings to parts that are better suited to his voice type. The gorgeous performances of the higher voices in the trio, "Suscepit Israel," from the Magnificat, and the duet for sopranos, "De torrente in via bibet," from Dixit Dominus, are highlights of the album. Tenor Toby Spence and bass Laurent Naouri sing competently, but their voices don't match the sumptuous luster of the other soloists. Virgin's sound is not up to its usual standards -- it's overly bright, and at the same time muddy and thick sounding in the tutti sections.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Magnificat, for 5 voices, 5-part chorus, orchestra & continuo in D major, BWV 243 (BC E14)|
|Dixit Dominus, hymn for soloists, chorus & orchestra in G minor, HWV 232|