I bought this version unheard, on the strength of the partnership between David Daniels, whose voice moves me like no other countertenor I have heard, and Europa Galante/Biondi. Their Vivaldi: Stabat Mater; Nisi Dominus /Daniels · Europa Galante · Biondi
is a glorious and beautiful piece.
I already had another version Pergolesi: Stabat Mater; Salve Regina
, much favoured, but was lured by what seemed like a dream team.
Alas, 'twas not so. This being due to a surrender, on this version, to the potentially flamboyant and theatrical quality of the piece - there is a springiness in its rhythms, weavings of musical lines and vocal gymnastics. Europa Galante go for this hell for leather, whereas the Hogwood reins back from too much bounce, and their restraint imbues the piece with some sort of aching tension which is more appropriate to the subject matter than bouncing on a trampoline, which this version feels like.
However, the major stumbling block to me on this version is the rich and sumptious, almost fleshy, pushy opulent quality of Dorothea Röschmann's vocals
Where is 'the mournful Mother weeping.....Through her heart, His sorrow sharing, all His bitter anguish bearing, now at length the sword has passed.' - Röschmann's voice seemed more suited to Cosi Fan Tutte than to the sombre text of this piece.
Though undoubtedly the match and interweave of the two voices is very beautiful, I found myself wincing when Röschmann let rip on her solo lines, and also wincing at the overstressed rhythms of the musicians.
The dream team had fallen apart for me. If I could, I would have plucked out Daniels and inserted him into the Kirkby/Hogwood version. Daniels, unlike Röschmann, does not strain and push, and when his vocal lines soar and build, they feel effortless to this listener