Following his outstanding Cannes Classical Award-winning CD Elegeia for this same label, countertenor Matthew White fully confirms the extraordinary performance standard he set on that recording. In fact, in these excerpts from Italian oratorios, White's voice seems even stronger and richer, his technique more fluid, his delivery more confident. In part this impression comes from the repertoire, which here is more operatic and thus more virtuosic than on the earlier disc. Just listen to the opening arias by Zelenka and you'll not only be impressed with White's commanding presence, golden sonority, and soaring lines, but also by Zelenka's stylish, sophisticated, and very attractive music, which ranksRead more among the finest of the genre (and is the best on this well-chosen program).
White also shows his stuff in the slower, more lyrical arias, such as Vivaldi's sensuous "Noli ò cara te adorantis" ("Do not rebuff, o dearest..."), Scarlatti's "Perchè mormora il ruscello", and in the middle section of Zelenka's "A che riserbano", with the sensitively-set text "Great God, the tears of a wretched mother are asking you for mercy"--which is preceded and followed by some of the more exciting vocal writing (and performing) you'll ever hear, accompanying the irresistibly volatile words "For what do the Heavens save their lightning bolts, if they do not brandish them in the face of wickedness?"
As suggested in the liner notes, the three-movement opening to Alessandro Scarlatti's Cain, overo Il primo omicidio (The first murder) is nothing less than a "mini-concerto for solo violin", and Jeanne Lamon delivers an appropriately exciting interpretation that sets the stage for White's equally enthralling vocalism in four widely varied arias selected from the larger work. The program closes on a somber note, with a "tormented" Peter singing the opening aria from Caldara's Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The sound is ideal--and you won't hear better baroque-repertoire vocalism, or countertenor singing, anywhere. And even though I said this last year when Elegeia was issued, I have to say it again: this is definitely a candidate for a disc of the year award. Don't miss it.
-- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com [4/16/2004, reviewing original release] Read less
Concerto for Strings in C major, RV 114by Antonio Vivaldi Conductor:
Period: Baroque Written: Venice, Italy Date of Recording: 2003 Venue: Humbercrest United Church, Toronto, Onta Length: 5 Minutes 19 Secs.