Young Canadian countertenor Daniel Taylor combines a deliciously creamy voice with a keen dramatic sense, and his reputation in this small but nevertheless star-oriented field has been steadily growing. This beautifully recorded release from Sweden's BIS label seems certain to add to that reputation. Veteran British early music soprano Emma Kirkby gets top billing, but she appears only in the final work on the album, Bach's Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden, BWV 1083, a transcription and fairly detailed revision of Giovanni Batista Pergolesi's somber Stabat Mater. This work might be worth the purchase price by itself; it's less often heard than Bach's more faithful Vivaldi transcriptions, and the process of remaking the Stabat Mater into a German cantata is interesting before one even gets to the marvelous interplay between Kirkby's now sharp-edged voice and Taylor's supple instrument. Pergolesi himself is represented by the Salve Regina, which offers several fine examples of Taylor's flair for catching hearers' attention with his text readings. Sample his way of entering with a striking vibrato-free tone in texts of supplication, and then broadening out into a warmer sound as the prayer gains strength. The opening Stabat Mater, RV 621, of Vivaldi, preceded by a short instrumental sonata, is a marvelous example of the dark but lush colors associated with this text in the Baroque, and Taylor's performances, not overwhelmingly powerful but operatic in their beauty, hang in the mind. Taylor's period-instrument Theatre of Early Music backs him quietly, with perfect sensitivity. A compelling program, in top-notch renderings. Booklet notes are in English, French, and German.
Stabat Mater Review
by James Manheim