Conductor Rinaldo Alessandrini's historical-instrument recordings of Vivaldi and other Italian Baroque composers, originally recorded around the turn of the millennium for the Opus 111 label, are being reissued on Naïve, complete with the fashion-forward graphics for which that label is known. Any and all remain completely distinctive, but this all-Vivaldi disc makes perhaps the ideal place to start. It comes with a pretty substantial booklet essay (in French, English, and Italian, although the texts of the vocal pieces are only in Latin, English, and French) by Alessandrini himself, providing the historical background for his unorthodox readings; this is highly readable and touches on such subjects as visual art and theatrical history. Alessandrini's contention, in a nutshell, is that in Vivaldi's time, even in church and in instrumental music, the musical point of reference for an Italian audience was opera. His interpretations might be called hyper-dramatic, and the second good reason to choose this Alessandrini disc is that here he has a true vocal diva to help him realize his vision: contralto Sara Mingardo, whose presence in the Stabat Mater in F minor for contralto, strings, and continuo is stunning. Alessandrini often uses an organ continuo as a sort of extra string layer, adding syncopated stabs of emotion, and when he gets into step with Mingardo the effect is very powerful even in the absence of vocal fireworks; this is a stately Stabat Mater rather than a fiery one, even in the "Fac ut ardeat cor meum" verse. The entire program builds to this point, with a little-heard alto motet and an unusual trio of church-oriented concertos with a variety of unusual solo wind instruments. Arresting from the first stroke, this is a classic of Baroque music-making.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Concerto per la solennità di S Lorenzo, for 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 recorders, 2 violins, bassoon, strings & continuo in C, RV 556|
|Clarae stellae, scintillate, solo motet for voice, strings & continuo in F major, RV 625|
|Concerto for violin & organ or violin ad lib & cello, strings & continuo in C major, RV 554a|
|Concerto funebre, for violin, oboe, chalumeau, 3 violas all'inglese, strings & continuo in B flat major, RV 579|
|Stabat Mater, hymn for voice, strings & continuo in F minor, RV 621|
|Sonata à 4 al Santo Sepolcro, for 2 violins, viola & continuo in E flat major, RV 130|