Elin Manahan Thomas / Florilegium

Vivaldi: Sacred Works for Soprano and Concertos

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins

This very attractive release from Channel Classics features the terrific British period instrument ensemble Florilegium in performances of three Vivaldi concertos and two sacred vocal works. The group plays without a conductor and the players' shapely unanimity of phrasing and nuanced expressiveness give the performances the character of chamber music. It sidesteps the metric squareness that can plague performances of Vivaldi and let the music breathe and surge organically. The strings have the slight tartness of Baroque instruments and the overall sound of the orchestra has an appealing burnished sheen. This is relatively obscure repertoire and includes a flute concerto that was only discovered in 2010 and is recorded here for the first time, played beautifully by Ashley Solomon, the artistic director of Florilegium.

Soprano Elin Manahan Thomas is highly effective in the psalm setting Laudate Pueri and the motet Nulla in mundo. She sings with absolutely unmannered spontaneity and naturalness. Manahan Thomas' voice has an astonishing clarion purity that's nowhere more evident than in "A solis ortu" from Laudate Pueri, in which her sound is piercingly clean and intense. The only blemish in her performance is in the final movement of the motet where in the outrageously demanding melismas her intonation goes very noticeably astray. This may be sacred music, but Vivaldi's vocal lines are anything but austere; they have a ravishing, sinuous lyricism that's as sensual as anything in his operas. The sound of the hybrid SACD is immaculate and natural. Anyone who knows Vivaldi only as the composer of The Four Seasons should take advantage of this disc's offerings of the varied (and vastly more interesting) music he was capable of producing.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Concerto Madrigalesco for strings and continuo, RV 129
1 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 00:59 Amazon
2 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 01:37 Amazon
3 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 00:50 Amazon
4 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 01:10 Amazon
Laudate Pueri for soprano, flute, strings and continuo, RV 601
5 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 03:24 Amazon
6 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 02:32 Amazon
7 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 03:51 Amazon
8 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 03:01 Amazon
9 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 02:19 Amazon
10 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 01:46 Amazon
11 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 04:02 Amazon
12 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 01:01 Amazon
13 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 02:08 Amazon
Il Gran Mogul, concerto for solo flute, strings and continuo, RV 431a
14 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 03:39 Amazon
15 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 02:10 Amazon
16 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 02:23 Amazon
Motet Nulla in mundo for soprano, 2 violins, viola and continuo, RV 630
17 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 05:54 Amazon
18 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 01:07 Amazon
19 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 03:18 Amazon
20 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 02:06 Amazon
Concerto in B flat for solo violin, solo cello, strings and continuo
21 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 04:18 Amazon
22 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 01:48 Amazon
23 Florilegium / Elin Manahan Thomas 03:25 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick