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Stabat Mater (Banchini, Ensemble 415, Scholl) [Hybrid SACD, SACD]

Andreas Scholl , Antonio Vivaldi , Chiara Banchini , Ensemble 415 Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Conductor: Chiara Banchini
  • Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
  • Audio CD (10 Nov 2003)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi
  • ASIN: B0000D16AQ
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 563,011 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid. 11 May 2004
This marvellous disc won a Gramophone award back in '96 and its aged onto SACD like a fine Italian wine (red, of course).
The entire disc is lovely, both the two little string concertos and the fairly unfamiliar Cantata (RV684) and the Intro and Miserere (RV 638). The cantata has the usual rubbish lyrics, like every Italian pastoral cantata of the period, but Vivaldi's genius is to make the verse seem lyrical and intense. The pizzicato accompaniments, including a beautifully articulated lute, are absolutely wonderful. The main attraction, the Stabat Mater comes last on the disc. Within it, Vivaldi holds the best back until last, - the final two stanzas before the Amen are sumptuously beautiful and as high in quality as anything else in his vast output.
Scholl obviously thinks so, too, his voice clear, clean and particularly affecting without being affected. He's like that throughout of course, because he's a brilliant artist, but those two stanzas are special even for him. Like Scholl, the ever-reliable Ensemble 415 is always clear and polished, allowing the music to speak for itself.
The recording was always good. The SACD release hasn't done much to it. If anything it uncovers a little bit of acoustical discrepancy between recording sessions, espec. between the Stabat Mater and the rest of the program, but it's not bothersome, just of mild interest. The surround mix (being a recent studio re-run fabrication) doesn't do a great deal. It doesn't add any width but the music wouldn't suit too much of a wrap around affect and in any event, I quite liked the clear, front-imaging and nice neutral acoustic of the original. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Played at just the right volume however, the "rear channels" did help lift and focus the sound.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a classical music buff but....... 10 Oct 2008
I really like Andreas Scholl's voice on this. Bought at random as a result of hearing the first aria (on Lyric FM) and, as the man said, I bought the CD, to discover the pleasures of the Stabet Mater awaited me. If you only buy one classical CD this week, buy this!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Himalayas of Baroque Sacred Vocal Music 14 May 2009
By Giordano Bruno - Published on Amazon.com
The sequence of Italian baroque masterpieces using the Stabat Mater text is one of the cordilleras of musical accomplishment. The poem, perhaps written by the Medieval Italian mystic, Jacopone da Todi, was set often in the Renaissance - by Josquin, Palestrina, Browne, inter alia - but its plangent emotionalism seems to have made it especially compelling to the greatest Catholic composers of the 18th Century: Vivaldi, Alessandro Scarlatti, Domenico Scarlatti, Pergolesi, Caldara, Bononcini, and Boccherini. Each of their settings is distinctive musically, and each is a high peak in the cordillera.

Vivaldi's setting of 1712 is the earliest of his vocal compositions with a verifiable date. The text describes the sorrows of the Mother of Jesus standing at the foot of the Cross. It's worth reading through the whole poem before or while listening to a performance, any performance. Even a stern non-believer will be moved by the devotional pathos of it, and if you can read Latin, you'll find that it is a marvel of evocative verse. Vivaldi composed it almost certainly to be sung by a male alto, and not necessarily a castrato since 'falsettists' were more commonly employed as altos.

This performance by Andreas Scholl and Ensemble 415 is my current favorite of many excellent performances. It seems to me to have the best overall balance of lovely and expressive singing, elegant instrumental passagework, and tight ensemble. The performance by Michael Chance is sung superbly, but the instrumental support from Trevor Pinnock's English Consort isn't as tight. The performance by David Daniels has the opposite weakness; the instrumental contributions of Fabio Biondi's Europa Galante are sublime, probably the best on any CD, but Daniels has "holes in his game" on this recording. Philippe Jaroussky, probably my favorite male soprano these days, seems not quite suited to this particular piece, though his performance with Ensemble Matheus is certainly of interest. Kevin Mellon sings the role fairly well on a bargain recording from Aradia Ensemble.

That makes five male altos, all of them offering excellent accounts of the piece. There are also two recordings worth hearing by women altos: Sara Mingardo with Concerto Italiano, and Catherine Robbin with Les Violins du Roy. I esteem Mingardo and Alessandrini's Concerto Italian quite highly, but on this music, for my ears, the woman's more 'operatic' voice just doesn't quite serve.

There's one more male contralto performance that merits mention. The original CD is not available, but the recording is #36 of the 40 CDs in the Vivaldi Masterworks box. The performance is by Sytse Buwalda, with the Netherlands Bach Collegium. It's a strong performance by Buwalda, whose lower range suits the Stabat Mater perfectly.

I'm planning to work through the other Stabat Maters mentioned above in later reviews. Stay tuned! By the way, I'm not at all sure that SACD technology adds musical values to this performance. I suppose it would depend a good deal on your system and on your acoustical space, but in my music room I have to turn the extra speakers off to avoid "fill."
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