VIVALDI Gloria / Lezhneva 4833874

Vivald's Gloria in D major is given a fresh and bracing new interpretation from the best of Italy's new crop of Baroque talent, including soprano Julia Lezhneva and countertenor Franco Fagioli, all marshalled by conductor Diego Fasolis.

No, of course we don't need yet another recording of the Vivaldi "Gloria" -- it's one of the most abundantly performed sacred works of the Baroque period, and for good reason. But on the other hand, how can we do without a performance as vivid, as muscular, as radiantly beautiful as this one? Conductor Diego Fasolis makes clear right from the start that this is going to be a booming, heavyweight account, and the rest of the disc is marked by rhythmic momentum, fearless playing from the period ensemble I Barocchisti and lustrous, beautifully blended choral singing. Atop it all are solo contributions of gleaming, elegant urgency from soprano Julia Lezhneva and countertenor Franco Fagioli, who seem to be competing to see who can muster the most shimmery vocal tone or execute the most flawless ornamentation. Along with the "Gloria" come two shorter liturgical works, "Nisi Dominus" and "Nulla in mundo pax sincera," and all of it is exquisitely done.

["Gloria"]: This one is directed by the man who could energise a snail, Diego Fasolis . . . The result is a performance that remains more vital and intense orchestrally than chorally, from the strongly sculpted dynamics of its opening -- with associated very slightly exaggerated pauses -- to the very end. There's considerable flair and tonal warmth in the orchestra and individual contributions are strongly etched and invariably exciting or deft, not least the winds and the discreet use of organ. The tempi are well chosen and never sound rushed; thus phrasing sounds natural. The two soloists are soprano Julia Lezhneva and counter tenor Franco Fagioli. They manage to blend together well in "Laudamus te" . . . Shadowed by the oboe of Pier Luigi Fabretti she sings with clarity and directness in the "Rex caelestis" . . . ["Nisi Dominus"]: [Fagioli]: Taut, rich and resonant he employs all his stagecraft in putting across a work that, in any case, doesn't require too much prompting. The strong orchestral bass line gives him the necessary springboard, Fasolis on hand to generate buoyant rhythm. "Cum dederit" is sensitively phrased, "Sicut sagittae" driving and vehement and concertmaster Fiorenza De Donatis plays splendidly in the concertante opportunities afforded during "Gloria Patri, et Filio". Lezhneva's pure-toned and focused vocalism makes a fine impression in "Nulla in Mundo Pax Sincera" . . . Here, too, orchestral obbligati are full of character -- cello, theorbo and others -- and the soprano's coloratura is put to the test in the concluding Alleluia; needless to say, she is up to all demands. Well-sprung and youthful . . . With a fine recording and good documentation this is a strong entrant in a very crowded field. If you admire what I Barocchisti and Fasolis do, not least with discreet ornamentations, and enjoy very different soloistic approaches, this is an attractive proposition.

. . . Franco Fagioli s'y montre superbe: ainsi, son "Qui sedes ad dexteram patris" force l'admiration. Le ch¿ur est honnête, au timbre quelconque, d'une conduite traditionnelle, avec pour être juste, une belle double fugue ("Cum sancto spiritu"). L'orchestre de Diego Fasolis est réactif, coloré, avec quelques articulations inattendues . . . Franco Fagioli, au souffle inépuisable, déroule sa ligne de chant avec des couleurs, des phrasés, des progressions admirables. L'aisance est souveraine. Son précédent enregistrement avait enthousiasmé notre collègue Bernard Schreuders. Celui-ci est de la même eau. Toutes ses interventions sont également admirables, quel qu'en soit le sens. "Surgite postquam sederitis", arioso de l'amertume, au caractère dramatique accusé, est un modèle du genre. Le berceur "Cum dederit" atteint une intensité rare, avec une somptueuse trame instrumentale. L'agilité, les vocalises virtuoses du "Sicut sagittae" nous émerveillent. Le "Gloria Patri", où la viole d'amour et l'orgue combinent leurs timbres . . .[est] d'une grande beauté. L'Amen nous laisse pantois: la longueur de voix, la virtuosité et l'aisance dans tous les registres, la couleur flamboyante de Franco Fagioli sont-elles égalables? . . . [Vivaldi / Gloria]: Tous les accents quasi bel-cantistes, relâchés, de la soprano font . . . place à une maîtrise exceptionnelle: du début à la fin, on est ému et ébloui par Julia Lezhneva. La technique est superlative, toujours soumise à l'expression la plus juste. Le premier air est superbement conduit, avec une grande pureté d'émission. Les aigus sont frais, naturels, caressants: de la dentelle finement ouvragée. La méditation douloureuse du "Blando colore", savamment ornée avec discrétion, relève du grand art. Décidé, allègre, très profane avec son contre-mi final, le "Spirat anguis inter flores" est éblouissant. L'Alleluia ultime, lumineux, de haute voltige, relève de la plus belle pyrotechnie vocale. A l'écoute de l'art déployé par chacun des solistes dans les deux dernières ¿uvres, l'auditeur ne manquera pas d'être fasciné . . . le psaume et le motet rendent ce CD incontournable.