Friday, January 25, 2013

Awards 2012 - Baroque Vocal

Bach: Motets
Monteverdi Choir; English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner
Soli Deo Gloria

"John Eliot Gardiner writes (and he always writes eloquently), “Bach’s motets constitute the most perfect, and in some ways the most hypnotic, set amongst his works.” The motets are not, strictly speaking, a set. They are independent pieces, each unique in its own way, grouped by the accident of their survival. But they are also united by their seriousness, and by the accidental fact that the six canonical motets fit on a single CD... As always, the choir sings with remarkable precision. And much is demanded of them. Gardiner, it seems, has molded every phrase to bring out the meaning of the words, much like a Lieder singer shaping a song to enhance its story. He does so without diminishing the coherence of the overall work. This would be a challenge for a soloist. For a chorus it is really quite an astonishing accomplishment." - George Chien, Fanfare.
"Some might find Gardiner's approach theatrical; he could persuasively counter that the motets engage unflinchingly with matters of life and death. And if his Erato recording of this repertoire 30 years ago wears its age well at a purely musical level, it's clear that his understanding of their multi-faceted richness has deepened immeasurably." - Paul Riley, BBC Music Magazine.

Vivaldi: Farnace. Max Emanuel Cencic et al; I Baroccchisti/Diego Fasolis [Virgin]
Briceño: "El fenix de Paris". Le Poème Harmonique/Vincent Dumestre [Alpha] 
"Le triomphe de l'amour". Sandrine Piau; Les Paladins/Jérôme Corréas [Naive]
Falvetti: Il diluvio universale. soloists; Cappella Mediterranea; Namur Chamber Choir/Leonardo Garciá Alarcón [Ambronay]

This is John Eliot Gardiner's second Nereffid's Guide Award (the first was for "Pilgrimage to Santiago" in 2007. And we welcome another new label among the runners-up: Alpha's "El fenix de Paris" got here by a slight bending of the rules; only two of my six major sources reviewed it, which ruled it out of contention, but it got so much support from foreign-language reviewers that I felt bound to include it.

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