|Site review by ramesh January 7, 2009
|This well-programmed SACD intersperses two instrumental concertos amongst four attractive, concise soprano cantatas, all accorded the 2L label's exemplary sound.
In an inspired analogy, the liner notes suggest that Vivaldi's 'cantatas can be seen as the short story of the vocal arts- a distillation of the opera, which in its simplicity may have been suitable for tours, for use at concerts at court or musical soirées in the homes of affluent citizens.'
The young soprano Tone Wik sings vibrantly in these works, with a touch more vibrato than some others utilise in period performances. These cantatas are scarcely religious, as quotes from the opening lines demonstrate : 'What joy is longing, wretched heart'; 'The little butterfly flutters around the light, the bee flies round the flowers, and Clizia, in love follows her sun'; 'Though the forest, field and brook thrive without soul, My tears have the power to move them to pity'; 'In the shadow of doubt, The constancy of my love loses some faith, and does not believe in beauty's flattery'.
For whatever occasion Vivaldi composed these rousing and arousing works, the lyrics are clearly superior to those used by a modern chanteuse such as Carla Bruni-- and doubtless Vivaldi's torch singer was assumed to have great vocal dexterity, to compensate for any lack of skills in the social climbing domain.
The concerto RV441 also appears on a PentaTone SACD of Vivaldi flute concertos [ PTC 5186108 ], including two from the famous Op10 set. In the 2L disc, the soloist plays an alto recorder. This work was originally composed for a recorder before its later adaptation for flute. 2L's soloist, Alexandra Opsahl, is every bit as nimble as the recorder virtuoso Dan Laurin who stars in the innovative BIS SACD of Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'. Comparing Opsahl's interpretation to the early 1970's performances on the PentaTone SACD and William Bennett's recording with the ASMF on Decca, one hears the general tendency of modern performances of this repertory to have slightly brisker tempi, especially in slow movements, allied to greater dynamic contrasts within the phrase.
The DXD recording [ 32 bit floating point @ 352.8 kHz ] is of demonstration standard. Comparisons to the beautifully balanced 1973 analogue Philips tape on the PentaTone SACD show a glorious richness in the modern 2L recording which outshines any competition. Taken by itself the PentaTone disc is outstanding, outshining the relatively good CD sound Decca achieved in their transfers of the vintage Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. How much this is due to 2L's DXD recording process, or the use of state-of-the-art microphones and cabling is a moot point, one that most music lovers would be grateful for yet set aside when listening to the beautiful sounds captured on this release.