Quebec contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux scored a top rating on her earlier Analekta disc of Handel Italian cantatas, and in that review I expressed a desire for more recordings from this sensational young singer. If you enjoyed the Handel program (and if you don't have it, get it), you'll be just as happy with this new disc that combines two famous Baroque solo-vocal works with some engaging, relentlessly upbeat orchestral selections from the same period. Lemieux continues to impress with her warm, true-contralto tone, fluid legatos, canny phrasing, and total command of the technical aspects of these justifiably popular yet challenging works. Her somewhat darker, rounder vocal quality and relativelyRead more slower tempos contrast nicely with countertenor Andreas Scholl's bright, vibrant, and generally faster version of the Stabat Mater. While the faster tempos benefit Scholl in terms of breath frequency and phrase length, Lemieux artfully incorporates the breathing points in her more drawn-out lines--in the Stabat Mater's central Largo, for instance--to enhance the phrasing so that the breaks seem part of the music's natural flow. This is singing of the highest professional and artistic standard, and the spirit and enthusiasm that informs every note keeps us happily involved all the while Lemieux holds center stage.
Not that the orchestra selections are the slightest bit shabby! The opening Vivaldi sinfonia is a sheer delight, its catchy tunes and infectious rhythms reminding us why this composer continues to be such an audience pleaser, and Tafelmusik's splendid ensemble interplay and impeccable precision leave no doubt that we're hearing Baroque instrumental music at its best. The sound is absolutely ideal, with especially keen definition to the strings and natural, unadulterated treatment of the voice. A must!
--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Stabat Mater in F minor, RV 621by Antonio Vivaldi Performer:
Marie-Nicole Lemieux (Alto)
Period: Baroque Written: Venice, Italy Language: Latin