VIVALDI: Concerto Madrigalesco; Laudate Pueri; Il Gran Mogul; Motet Nulla in mundo; Double Concerto in B-flat – Elin M. Thomas, sop./ Ashley Solomon, flute/ Bojan Cicic, violin/ Jennifer Morsches, cello/ Florilegium – Channel Classics

by | May 23, 2012 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

VIVALDI: Concerto Madrigalesco, RV 129; Laudate Pueri, RV 601; Il Gran Mogul, RV 431a; Motet Nulla in mundo, RV 630; Double Concerto in B-flat, RV 547 – Elin Manahan Thomas, sop./ Ashley Solomon, flute/ Bojan Cicic, violin/ Jennifer Morsches, cello/ Florilegium – Channel Classics multichannel SACD CCS SA 32311, 59:01 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:
One thing you can say about Florilegium—they know how to make programs that blend and entice. This is a nice Vivaldian mix that contains only one work that you are likely to recognize, the Double Concerto for Violin and Cello in B-flat. After the concerto genre Vivaldi wrote more double concertos than anything else, and they are very impressive indeed. The Concerto Madrigalesco has nothing to do with madrigals, but is instead a parody concerto for strings constructed from various sacred works of the composer, its tight construction and stately manner most likely designated it for a church setting. Il Gran Mogul, a national flute concerto about India, was one of three other “national” concertos written in the 1720s, though the others are unfortunately now lost. Ashley Solomon is his usual sterling self in this work.
The two vocal pieces here do much to show off the impressive artistry of soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, whose pyrotechnics are studded and blazing in the fast moments of both pieces. Though most of the works on this disc were written for Vivaldi’s exceptionally talented female orphans at the Ospedale della Pieta, a charitable orphanage where he spent many years, Laudate Pueri was written for the Saxon court at Dresden around 1730. It is a highly virtuosic work, the high “D” evidence of the need for an accomplished soprano. Nulla in mundo is a small scale, chamber type motet for two violins, viola, basso continuo, and soprano used in services even though basically a religious non-liturgical work substituted as “filler” in many places. Vivaldi wrote a slew of them, but only twelve survive today. Manahan Thomas is on top of her game here, and the singing is quite thrilling.
The sound is nothing to sneeze at either, as we expect from Channel Classics, now expert at capturing all sizes of Baroque ensembles. If you haven’t heard Florilegium this is as good a place to start as any—but you do need to hear them.
—Steven Ritter

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