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Robert Hugill
MusicWeb International, May 2008

For anyone wanting to start exploring the byways of Vivaldi’s sacred music, this disc would make an excellent start. The Aradia Ensemble are fine stylists and the results are lively attractive performances. The choir are a small, focused group but there are only fifteen of them and the tone in the tenors and altos can get a little nasal and lacking in amplitude. Just occasionally, though, I missed the polish, intensity and depth of sound that characterises the recordings of this repertoire on Hyperion and Opus 111. On this disc, vitality is coupled with a directness and occasional, appealing rawness, whereas both Robert King and Rinaldo Alessandrini manage to combine intensity with liveliness and a smooth sophistication. And their soloists, are frankly, a cut above those on this disc, though the Canadians acquit themselves more than creditably…

Fanfare, May 2005

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Kevin Sutton
MusicWeb International, January 2005

Naxos, in their ever-continuing quest to give us the entire classical repertoire at an affordable price, have begun yet another series of recordings that is certain to bear great riches if this introductory outing is any indication. In a most consistently outstanding recital of Antonio Vivaldi’s sacred vocal works, Kevin Mallon and his Aradia Ensemble prove themselves to be on a par with any of the fine baroque orchestras and choirs active today. Add to the complement a fine roster of soloists and you have a package that is close to irresistible. Vivaldi, known to Venetians as “the red priest” for the combination of his first calling and his red hair, spent a goodly portion of his career as master of the music for the Ospedale della Pieta, an institution for orphaned and illegitimate girls. Apparently the lack of social good fortune did not hamper the abundance of musical gifts present in the place. In addition to his voluminous output of concertos and chamber music, he was also quite prolific in his writing for the church. If this disc is a harbinger of things to come, I will be anxiously awaiting each new issue in this series. Opening with the Vesper psalm Dixit Dominus, we get treated to a choral ensemble of exquisite refinement and an orchestra of delightful aplomb. Jane Archibald and Michele de Boer are a divine pair of sirens in their strikingly well blended and beautiful duet singing. Maestro Mallon is the apex of taste and style in this well paced performance. He is to be particularly commended for the ultra-elegant singing of his choir, and for the careful attention to enunciation. Each word is clearly audible and understandable, even to the untrained ear. Ms. Archibald returns to deliver the gorgeous motet Nulla in mundo pax sincera, delightful in its captivating compound meter. This is singing of the first order, devoid of the “earlier than thou” trappings of many baroque specialists, and completely convincing in its sincerity, clarity and intonation. To say more would endanger my credibility given that I would want nothing more than to gush on about the ravishing beauty of this singing. The concluding work, the lesser known of the two extant settings of the Gloria, is another winner for its pacing and vocal and instrumental refinement. The work opens with an interpolated motet, lovely as a piece of music, but a bit of a let-down in performance. Alas, mezzo-soprano Anita Krause, whose rich voice is a pleasurable enough listen, over-blows her coloratura passages, approaching them too heavily and without a solid core to the pitch. They start to sound like the starter mechanism of an old car on a cold day. To her credit, however, in the more liquid and lyrical longer-noted passages, she sings with serenity and color that is quite lovely. Sound quality and program notes are very fine indeed. Jump on this one. A winner on all fronts.

John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, December 2004

The new Naxos album, the first of a new series that will span all of Vivaldi’s sacred choral music, brings us the little-known “Dixit Dominus,” as well as two other works, “Nulla in mundo pax sincera” and “Jubilate, o amoeni chori.” All three make welcome discoveries. “Dixit Dominus” was unearthed as late as the 1960s and has many pages just as inspired as the familiar “Gloria.” Soprano Jane Archibald makes a particularly strong impression in the “Virgam virtutis,” while tenor Nils Brown, bass Giles Tomkins and countertenor Peter Mahon blend seamlessly in the “Gloria patri.” The Toronto-based Aradia Ensemble’s period instrumentalists provide graceful, committed support. Naxos latest Vivaldi project is off to an auspicious start.

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