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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger

Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Kyrie RV 587
Gloria in D major RV 589
Credo RV 591
Magnificat RV 610
Karla Urb and Vilve Hepner (sopranos)
Anna Zander (alto)
Mati Turi (tenor)
Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Tallinn Chamber Orchestra/Tōnu Kaljuste

Recorded Tallinn Methodist Church October 2002
CARUS 83.403 [58.56]



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I liked this disc in every respect but one. The tempos are buoyant, the solo singing exceptionally attractive, the chamber orchestra lithe and incisive, the direction idiomatic. The problem is the choir or, rather, the way in which it’s been recorded. The acoustic balance in the Choruses of the Gloria sounds very weird indeed – with what sounds like a massive chorus (in the booklet picture I counted twenty-seven) in a vast nave amorphously recorded against a bright and fluent but small chamber band. I know Estonian choirs have a reputation for making a big sound but really the effect at such moments is ruinously dichotomous.

This is frustrating because I found a great deal to admire, from the intelligence and creamy tones of the two excellent sopranos Karla Urb and Vilve Hepner – whose blend is admirable – to the orchestral obbligato playing (sample Domine Deus for a particularly fine example) and the forward moving but not indifferent playing of the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra under Kaljuste’s judicious direction. If I can find fault with them it lies in the disjunction between the rhythmic attention of the band and the rather overly legato phrasing of the choir – which sets up another of those disjunctions to which the disc seems prey.

If the other works were recorded on different days or if the microphone set up was changed it somehow seems to matter less in the other works. The Kyrie, Credo and Magnificat sound less problematical acoustically though there is still the disparity in aesthetic between players and singers. I liked the expressive depth of the Credo’s Et incarnates est and the Et misericordia from the Magnificat. Again solo singing is fine. In the end though I was never able to reconcile the more problematical nature of the recording.

Jonathan Woolf


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