BACH: Arias from Cantatas Nos. 42, 74, 82, 83, 156 and 170, St. Matthew Passion, Mass in B Minor, and Christmas Oratorio
Angelika Kirchschlager, mezzo-soprano; Giuliano Carmignola, baroque
violin; Venice Baroque Orch/Andrea Marcon, cond.
SONY SS 89924 TT: 72:45 (5 channel)

VIVALDI: Late Concertos for Violin, Strings and Basso Continuo (Concertos RV 235, 251, 258, 296, 386 and 389)
Giiuliano Carmignola, baroque violin; Venice Baroque Orch/Andrea Marcon,
cond.
SONY SS 87733 TT: 71:48 (5 channel)

Both of these CDs are superb in every way. The remarkable new mezzo Angelika Kirschlager sings these Bach arias to perfection with glorious support from the 17-member Venice Baroque Orchestra, along with violinist Giuliano Carmignola, conducted by Andrea Marcon. The collection of "late" Vivaldi concertos includes a wide variety of works all identified as premiere recordings - all very much worthy of documentation. All have a wide variety of violinistic effects for the soloist magnificently executed by Carmignola. These are identified as "period" instrument performances but you will not hear the strained, rather dry sound often associated with "period music" performances doubtless because the recording was made in a highly resonant hall which minimizes the stringency of many early style instruments. The Abbazia di Rosozzo, Manzano (Undine), Italy, was the site of the recording in May 2002, where producer and engineer, Wolf Erichson and Markus Heiland, managed to combine extraordinary clarity with rich string sound along with the sounds of theorbo, baroue guitar, harpsichord and organ. Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista, Venice was the site of the Bach arias recordings made in January 2002 with producer Andreas Neubronner and, again, Markus Heiland as producer/recording engineer. The same rich sonic picture is heard with Kirschlager's voice perfectly centered and remarkably clear. The front channels contain most of the sonic information on both recordings, with rear speakers providing natural ambience. Highly recommended - and again as always with Sony it is unfortunate these are not hybrid disks and can be played only on a SACD unit. The Bach CD label is virtually impossible to read as printing is yellow/gold on a similarly-colored background.

R.E.B. (May 2003)