Search - Stephen Varcoe, Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Bach :: Vivaldi: Gloria; Ostro picta; Bach: Magnificat

Vivaldi: Gloria; Ostro picta; Bach: Magnificat
Stephen Varcoe, Antonio Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Bach
Vivaldi: Gloria; Ostro picta; Bach: Magnificat
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (27) - Disc #1


Larger Image
Listen to Samples

CD Details


CD Reviews

A real favorite of mine!
J. C Clark | Overland Park, KS United States | 04/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I love this recording. Emma Kirkby's voice compensates for all other (slight) deficiencies. She is truly a great singer: vivacious, lively, energetic and lovely. Her tone is sweet and pure; it is as if this music was written for her. The other vocalists, with the exception of the Michael Chance (his voice is just not to my taste), shine almost as brightly. The instrumental soloists are delightful.Hickox is not a favorite conductor of mine, but on this one he hits it. And the recording is great. The violins are clear; often on recordings like this the instruments are buried or muddy. Here they are strong without overwhelming. Good balance, good sound, good material, and an extraordinary soloist surrounded by excellent ones. A delight from beginning to end. Don't miss it."
A voice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 07/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)


Antonio Vivaldi (1675-174l) was both priest and musician composing both
sacred music and music for the Theatre, which definitely is reflected in his 'Gloria'. Vivaldi's sacred music may be divided into works with a liturgical text, and occasional, non-liturgical pieces, like 'Ostro picta, armata spina'(Dyed with crimson, armed with thorns) which belongs to a genre known as the 'introduzione'. Such works were essentially solo motets on freely-invented Latin texts and were intended to introduce a liturgical item. 'Ostro picta' consists simply of two da capo arias for soprano and strings separated by a brief recitative, and performed brilliantly on this disc by Emma Kirkby. Since 'Ostro picta' shares the same key and several thematic and textual links with the 'Gloria' RV589, they may well have been written to be performed together on certain festive occasions.

The 'Gloria' is cast in 12 movements, the choruses alternating with solos for two sopranos and an alto. It is filled with brilliance and energy from the beginning opening chorus to the meditative alto solo close to the end "Qui Sedes ad Dexteram". To avoid too loose a structure Vivaldi re-uses music from the opening movement in the chorus 'Quoniam tu solus sanctus', and provides a splendid climax to the work with an exhilarating choral fugue, 'Cum Sancto Spiritu', which is actually a re-working of a fugue by one of his contemporaries.

Like Vivaldi's 'Gloria', Bach (1685-1750) divides his setting of the 'Magnificat' into 12 contrasting movements each treating a short section of the text. It is scored for a 5 part choir; 5 soloists (SSATB), as well as flutes, oboes, trumpets in 3 parts, drums, strings and continuo. The opening section of the 'Magnificat' sets the stage for all that follows. The festive tone is set immediately by the opening chorus which is animated, but not rushed. Each of the five soloists (SSATB)has an individual aria, introduced and articulated by instrumental ritornelli. One of the most beautiful duets in this work is :"Et Misericordia" sung with incredible beauty by Michael Chance (counter-tenor) and John Mark Ainsley (tenor). Interspersed with the solo movements there are three fine fugal choruses. The work ends with a traditional musical pun as Bach returns to the brilliant music of the opening chorus at the words 'sicut erat in principio'- 'as it was in the beginning'.

When I purchased this disc it was for the sole purpose of hearing Michael Chance's voice as it sounded in this rendition from 1990 as opposed to Cleobury's 2001 recording in which he also sang the same line-up as in 1990. I am happy to say that he sounds every bit as excellent as he did then.

But, in addition to answering that question, I discovered a wonderful performance of both the 'Gloria' and the 'Magnificat.' And even though I do like Cleobury's recording of both works, this is just another interpretation every bit as excellent, but certainly with a different flavor.

The Hickox goes slightly faster in the 'fast' and slower in the 'slow' parts. Therefore, the soloists seem to have a bit more freedom in their renditions. While both discs have great soloists, I have always personally preferred Emma Kirkby; she seems so 'baroque' in her approach. As for the tenors, both discs are equal; how can one say that John Mark Ainsley is better than James Gilchrist or vice versa. I have to give the edge to Steven Varcoe, bass (great resonance).

The orchestra performed well, especially noted was the performance of the oboe and cello who had several solo passages. Overall Hickox seemed to prefer a more romantic approach than Cleobury, but I'll listen to both (not at the same time, of course). Richard Hickox directs his forces with great acumen, and is always in control. The Collegium Musicum 90, vocal and instrumental forces capture the prize for technical accuracy and musical passion, sometimes lacking in period performances.

Hickox passed away several weeks ago and whenever I listen to this wonderful rendition and many others that he conducted, I am reminded about how much he will be missed in the world of music!"
Good chorus, excellent soloists
Jeremy D Vosburgh | West Sand Lake, NY United States | 01/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The only way I know how to describe this recording is "quite good." Nothing was done wrong and the enunciation and tone was general good to excellent (although not exceptional, which is what you desire from professionals). The strong point was definitely the soloists which if the cd had only been them I might have given it 5 stars.Which is to say that this recording did have some great moments. There were a few songs which reminded me that the money I paid had been worth it. 1. Aria: Ostro Picta, Armata Spina - sung by the soprano Emma Kirkby was exceptional. as was her duet with Tessa Bonner in Gloria RV 589: 3. Duetto: Laudamus Te, which was done at a wonderfully brisk and bright pace and much emotion without too much virbrata.I had originally wanted the cd because it was a relatively early recording for Michael Chance (former choral scholar countertenor at King's College) and John Mark Ainsley. Both were close to flawless and Bach's et misericordia (duet) was where they shined in this cd.The Vivaldi choruses were unexciting for me (someone who has heard many recordings of them) as they were not of spectacular quality (although not bad by any means). They seemed to excite my fiancee, though, as this cd was the first she'd ever heard the glorias. Check out Philip Ledger's King's College recording of RV 589 if you desire to hear clear intonations and bright sound from the choruses. This cd, though, is one I listen to often because of the wonderful soloists and musicians and my four star rating means I would recommend it."