musica Dei donum
Vivaldi: Stabat mater (RV 621); Nisi Dominus (RV 608); Longe mala, umbrae, terrores (RV 629)
David Daniels (alto)
Dir: Fabio Biondi
rec: August 2001, New York, American Academy of Arts and Letters
Virgin Classics - 5 45474 2 (55'25")
I have never really been able to understand why people are so excited about
David Daniels. His recent performances in Handel's Giulio Cesare in
Amsterdam nor this recording have been able to make me change my mind.
I wonder why so few seem to notice some serious flaws in his singing. Apart
from a very annoying vibrato and a sound which reminds me too much of a
female contralto, his articulation and diction leaves something to be
desired. His pronunciation of Latin isn't perfect by any means: in
particular the vowels don't sound "open" enough. And when he sings a long
melisma, the sound of the vowel is changing somewhere in the middle. He
starts with an "a" and changes it into something like "è".
In this recording he is at his best in the first, highly dramatic aria of
the motet Longe mala, umbrae, terrores and in some verses of Nisi
Dominus. But I find the
expression in the Stabat mater pretty poor. When I compare his
interpretation with that of 'good old' James Bowman, JB wins hands down.
The most interesting aspect of this recording is the playing of Europa
Galante. It is very expressive, and sometimes revealing details of the music
I didn't notice before. In Nisi Dominus for instance, one hears the
arrows fly and hit the mark in 'Sicut sagittae': "Like arrows in the hand of a
mighty man, so are children of the outcast". But on other occasions the
sometimes wild ornaments are missing the
mark by a mile and are apparently played for their own sake.
So this is a "hit and miss" recording of three great works. It is certainly
an interesting recording, but - at least for me - not a satisfying one. If I
want to me moved by Vivaldi's Stabat mater, I return with joy to James
Bowman. I doubt that his moving performance will be surpassed in the near future.
Johan van Veen (© 2002)