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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heavenly singing from David Daniels., 12 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Vivaldi: Stabat Mater; Nisi Dominus /Daniels Europa Galante Biondi (Audio CD)
I was very lucky to attend a concert last night with David Daniels and Europa Galante, conducted by Fabio Biondi, where they performed one of the pieces on this CD, Longe Mala, umbrae terrores. I must admit having heard David in mostly opera (both in concert and on CD) I was quite exited by the prospect of him singing sacred music, and he did not disappoint. His glorious voice was warm and he managed to sing the piece with such conviction. I bought the CD after the concert and have played it several times since then. What I find different from this recording of the Stabat Mater, RV 621 and the Nisi Dominus, RV 608,(I have no other recordings of the last piece, Longe Mala, umbrae terrores, RV 629) compared to other recordings sung by countertenors, is that David Daniels voice is of such warmth and the range of it is just amazing, both the upper and lower register. The Stabat Mater is such a beautiful piece of music (try track 1, Stabat Mater dolorosa and track 8, Fac ut ardeat) and David voice fills the piece with such warmth and beauty, but still able to convey the sadness of the piece. The Nisi Dominus is slightly different in mood, but still sung with the same intensity and beauty. Europa Galante and Fabio Biondi gives exellent support throughout the CD. Is there anyone with a more natural sounding and glorious voice on the countertenor scene today then I would like to know about them. This recording is a first class example of David Daniels voice and would be my top recommendation for these works by Vivaldi.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful triple bill, exquisitely sung, 14 April 2014
By 
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Vivaldi: Stabat Mater; Nisi Dominus /Daniels Europa Galante Biondi (Audio CD)
A recent BBC Radio 3 CD Review praised this recording but did not ultimately recommend it as first choice because the reviewer found David Daniels to be too expressive and Romantic in his interpretation of the text. Likewise, another of my favourite recordings of the "Stabat Mater", which I have also recently reviewed, was praised but then dismissed because it is sung by a female voice, Sara Mingardo.

These things are very personal and of course any reviewer may express a preference but I would counter the reasons for those exclusion with three points: 1) Vivaldi was equally used to writing for and working with both female voices and countertenors (or even castrati), as he alternated between the Ospedale della Pietà, the orphanage for girls where he was maestro di coro and churches who invited the greatest male falsettists to perform liturgical music; 2) Vivaldi was quite severely constrained by the terms of the commission from the Oratorians, who stipulated (and here I paraphrase from the booklet essay by Toussaint Loviko) that he should set only the first half of the text, that the music should be "thematically economical and keep as close as possible to homotonality" and that movements IV to VI should be musically almost identical to movements 1 to II for reasons of "coherence and humility"; obviously this restricted the composer's s cope and any variety Daniels injects should surely be welcome; 3) what does it matter what voice-type is singing as long as it is stylistically apt and beautiful?

And Daniels' voice is certainly that; it really is a modern miracle of warmth, tenderness and expressivity. He can encompass coloratura, melismata and great, long-breathed runs with ease.

This is a very pared-down version, employing a string quartet plus an organ and theorbo to provide a basso continuo. The otherwise informative essay I refer to above devotes rather too much time to the politics of Vivaldi's career which could have been used to elucidate the music but I carp. We get here rather short measure of 55 minutes of music, consisting of three lovely work of approximately equal length; a highlight for me is the weirdly haunting Siciiana in "Nisi Dominus" in which muted high strings mutter over the dotted rhythm bass ground while the voice winds sinuously around them. The range of the three pieces permits Daniels to display his mastery across a wide tessitura and a gamut of emotional colous.

A very desirable disc featuring wonderful singing and playing of some unusual music, defying Vivaldi's unjustified reputation amongst some as a repetitive note-spinner.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, with some reservations, 30 April 2014
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Vivaldi: Stabat Mater; Nisi Dominus /Daniels Europa Galante Biondi (Audio CD)
I am largely in agreement with Ralph Moore's very good review here - this is a fine recording of all three of these pieces. However, I do tend a little more toward the Radio 3 reviewer's point of view in the Stabat Mater itself.

David Daniels is a superb singer and Fabio Biondi an excellent and original interpreter of whatever he chooses to record, so I was expecting great things here. I certainly got them in Nisi Dominus, which is magnificent - and the brief movement Beatus vir is quite spine-tingling, I think. I did find the Stabat Mater a little on the light side, though. I approve of Biondi's approach to Vivaldi (and to many other composers), which is often to have a real spring in the step but to play the music as though it really means something. Here, I felt the meaning was slightly subordinated to the springiness. It's certainly possible to overdo the agonized grief, but this is a poem about a mother weeping by her son's cruelly tortured dead body, so it does need a certain amount of gravitas which at times I felt was slightly lacking here. Add to this Daniels' (to me) rather excessive use of vibrato for this repertoire and it fell a little short of the real, moving experience this piece can be.

These are personal responses which other reviewers here plainly don't share, so I wouldn't want to put anyone off. Much of the disc is terrific, it is beautifully recorded and very well presented and it has given great pleasure to many people. For me, though, I will be sticking to my much-loved Andreas Scholl/Chiara Banchini recording. Vivaldi: Stabat Mater
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime !, 21 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Vivaldi: Stabat Mater; Nisi Dominus /Daniels Europa Galante Biondi (Audio CD)
This is one of those perfect recordings that come along once in a while. Beautifully sung by David Daniels and wonderfully supported By Fabio Biondi et al .... a real treat for lovers of this music.
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4.0 out of 5 stars MP3 tracks mistagged - Otherwise wonderful!, 25 Mar 2013
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I got this MP3 album mostly for the Stabat Mater, which I wanted to add to my growing collection of settings of this piece by various composers. I was unfamiliar with Vivaldi's version of this or either of the other two works on the album but this seems to me to be an excellent performance of them.

The only gripe I have is that the track titles were applied to the wrong tracks. By listening to the words it became clear that the first 9 tracks were the Stabat Mater and the next 9 tracks the Nisi Dominus, the opposite way round to what was listed (the Longe Mala - the final four tracks - seems to be correct). It wasn't too difficult to edit the files to put the right title to each track, but it shouldn't be necessary to do this when you buy an MP3 album.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Daniels is the REAL magician, 2 Feb 2012
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This review is from: Vivaldi: Stabat Mater; Nisi Dominus /Daniels Europa Galante Biondi (Audio CD)
Having recently heard Daniels in a Live at the Met in HD showing of The Enchanted Isle, I am absolutely captivated by and addicted to, this voice.

It is probably wrong (though understandable) to focus almost completely on the countertenor here, as of course we have a whole group of musicians involved in the experience, so the wonderfulness is a shared production, but the pieces do place the singer centre stage, and it is the role of the musicians to provide unobtrusive, fabulously sensitive support to the strange magic of the countertenor. And Biondi and Europa Galanti are exactly in place, providing this.

There are 3 pieces of music here, the Stabat Mater, Nisi Dominus (Psalm 26) and Longe Mala. I can't pick apart the technicalities of the pieces, only surrender to them, and to this beautiful, strange, warm and yet ethereal, effortless and brilliantly sparkling voice, a voice seems to come from some angelic realm - not a little cherub of an angel, but an angel whose shining is too bright to look upon. Possibly I'm still carrying the image of Daniels as the almost on the edge of dark magician from The Enchanted Isle here, but this voice really is almost, properly, something truly magical. Surely Daniels has been possessed by some musical elemental, surrendered himself to some celestial entity of singing. No words can convey it...listen and surrender.

The penultimate track of Longe Mala particularly is so profoundly beautiful in its quiet, reflective yearning that it reaches the point where the pleasure in the passing moments is almost too much to bear.

(and other, fortunately unwritten passages, too purple and fulsome with praise to want to read, or write!) Just buy this!
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