BBC Music Magazine - - Choral & Song Reviews -

Glo­ria in D; Nisi Domi­nus; Nulla in mundo pax sin­cera Ju­lia Lezh­neva (so­prano), Franco Fa­gi­oli (coun­tertenor); Coro della Ra­diotele­vi­sione Svizzera; I Baroc­chisti/diego Fa­so­lis

Decca 483 3874 59:16 mins

Here Decca brings its top Baroque so­prano, Ju­lia Lezh­neva, together with Deutsche Gram­mophon’s top coun­tertenor, Franco Fa­gi­oli, to per­form a col­lec­tion of Vi­valdi’s sa­cred hits. Star power is not, how­ever, enough to achieve ef­fec­tive lift-off.

The per­for­mances sat­isfy, rather than move. Crisp tem­pos, dis­ci­plined ensem­ble, and solo im­pro­vi­sa­tions both vo­cal and in­stru­men­tal un­leash the tremen­dous en­ergy of the choir-and-solo Glo­ria. Outer move­ments, edged with trum­pets and the choir’s mar­cato ex­cla­ma­tions, are sub­lime. But what about the pe­ti­tion ‘O Lamb of God’? The move­ment’s drama lies in pauses, like those of a spo­ken plea; in­stead, we get tow­er­ing ho­mophony from the Coro della Ra­diotele­vi­sione Svizzera. Vi­valdi wrote for an all-girl choir – but apart from Lezh­neva’s very gor­geous ‘Domine Deus’, fragility is banned from this Glo­ria. Direc­tor Diego Fa­so­lis gives Fa­gi­oli li­cense to swell rather too of­ten.

Fa­gi­oli la­dles on the drama even more in his Nisi Domi­nus.

His fans may en­joy it, but this solo psalm-setting wasn’t built for such ex­tremes. Take for ex­am­ple the aria

‘For so he giveth his beloved sleep’: a throb­bing si­cil­iano, it asks for the sim­plest, most whis­pered ad­dress pos­si­ble. Here Fa­gi­oli builds to his top note as if in a bravura aria. Read­ings by other coun­tertenors – An­dreas Scholl, David Daniels, Philippe Jaroussky – show the clum­si­ness of Fa­gi­oli’s ap­proach. Con­versely, Lezh­neva is too cool in her solo motet Nulla in mundo. Her col­oratura, match­less in its ve­loc­ity and pre­ci­sion, is de­tached, like bird­song. She wraps the words of her si­cil­iano, re­gard­less of mean­ing, in a sin­gle limpid tone. Glo­ri­ous singing, yes, but the heart is miss­ing.

Berta Jon­cus PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★★

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