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Vivaldi - Nisi Dominus & Stabat Mater / Lemieux, Jaroussky, Ensemble Matheus, Spinosi

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Audio CD, March 31, 2008
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Vivaldi - Nisi Dominus & Stabat Mater / Lemieux, Jaroussky, Ensemble Matheus, Spinosi + Philippe Jaroussky: Stabat Mater & Motets to the Virgin Mary
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Editorial Reviews

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Review

I came to this CD following up rumors of excellence, but you should probably know before I begin to second the praise I've heard for it that I would even listen to Sunday school blather set to music by Vivaldi were it sung well. I treasure his sacred music, finding in it an emotional ebullience, reflectiveness, and emotional power that on occasion can outstrip even the music of Bach.

This is French Vivaldi--meaning the ebullience is turned down (just) a notch, the sensuality, suavity, and `poetry' turned up. The solo voices are the principal features and strengths of these performances. Philippe Jaroussky's counter-tenor voice is as close to a female contralto as I've heard (more silver alloyed with the normal copper), which suits the music well. Not until the last strong note of the Nisi Dominus do we hear his true gender emerge. It also creates a stunning close mix with contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux in the brief Crucifixus, the middle work of the program. Lemieux is the star of the Stabat Mater, a noticeably darker work in theme (Mary at the foot of the cross) and musical color. This is more difficult music to perform successfully, depending as it does on illuminating detail within dark shadows. The orchestra handles the lighting wonderfully, while Lemieux secures the foreground with a voice at least as strong Jaroussky's, perhaps stronger.

The instrumental textures from the period strings are as light and crisp as autumn leaves. Solo cello and doubled violin passages are wonderfully alive with color. The spirit of Aerial dominates the Nisi; a darker one, the Holy Spirit or some earthly counterpart, controls the Stabat. The recording engineer is open to each in turn. You wont' find better Vivaldi anywhere. -- Positive-Feedback.com, Bob Neill, October 2008

The young Canadian contralto brings a gorgeous sound, a mature sense of phrasing and great presence to this pulsing, dignified portrait of suffering. From a compilation disc, with Jean-Christophe Spinosi and Ensemble Matheus, of tracks from Lemieux's recordings for the French label, Naïve. -- The Globe and Mail, Robert Everett-Green, December 7, 2009


1. Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126), for voice, viola d'amore, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 608: Nisi Dominus. Allegro
2. Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126), for voice, viola d'amore, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 608: Vanum est vobis. Largo
3. Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126), for voice, viola d'amore, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 608: Surgite postquam sederitis. Presto
4. Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126), for voice, viola d'amore, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 608: Cum dederit delectis suis somnum. Andante
5. Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126), for voice, viola d'amore, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 608: Beatus vir qui implevit. Andante
6. Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126), for voice, viola d'amore, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 608: Gloria Patri. Larghetto
7. Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126), for voice, viola d'amore, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 608: Sicut erat in principio. Allegro
8. Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126), for voice, viola d'amore, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 608: Amen. Allegro
9. Credo, for 2 solo voices, chorus, oboe (ad lib), strings & continuo in G major (spurious, attributed to Hasse), RV 592: Crucifixus
10. Stabat Mater, hymn for voice, strings & continuo in F minor, RV 621: Stabat Mater dolorosa. Largo
11. Stabat Mater, hymn for voice, strings & continuo in F minor, RV 621: Cujus animam gementem. Adagissimo
12. Stabat Mater, hymn for voice, strings & continuo in F minor, RV 621: O quam tristis. Andante
13. Stabat Mater, hymn for voice, strings & continuo in F minor, RV 621: Quis est homo. Largo
14. Stabat Mater, hymn for voice, strings & continuo in F minor, RV 621: Quis non posset. Adagissimo
15. Stabat Mater, hymn for voice, strings & continuo in F minor, RV 621: Pro peccatis suæ gentis. Andante
16. Stabat Mater, hymn for voice, strings & continuo in F minor, RV 621: Eia Mater fons amoris. Largo
17. Stabat Mater, hymn for voice, strings & continuo in F minor, RV 621: Fac ut ardeat cor meum. Lento
18. Stabat Mater, hymn for voice, strings & continuo in F minor, RV 621: Amen

Product Details

  • Performer: Philippe Jaroussky, Marie-Nicole Lemieux
  • Orchestra: Ensemble Matheus
  • Conductor: Jean-Christophe Spinosi
  • Composer: Antonio Vivaldi
  • Audio CD (March 31, 2008)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naive
  • ASIN: B000WC8BMU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,159 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Miz Ellen VINE VOICE on September 6, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These people are a team experienced in making beautiful music together, and it shows.
Director Jean-Christophe Spinosi
Ensemble Matheus
Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor
Marie-Nicole Lemieux, mezzo soprano

gave a series of celebrated concerts of Vivaldi's Orlando Furioso in 2003 which got rave reviews. Listening to this CD, one realizes that Vivaldi was an incredible composer and a priest who happened to compose operas. The loveliness of the violin passages where the voices of the singer float above, the rich sensual abandon of Lemieux's voice as she sings the Virgin's lament, the crystal clarity of Jaroussky, the counterpoint as their two voices play off of one another--all this makes for an album I strongly recommend to people who think the only thing that Vivaldi wrote was "The Four Seasons". This will blow your socks off.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jim Shine on February 26, 2008
Format: Audio CD
This Stabat mater is the earliest known of Vivaldi's sacred vocal works; it was first performed in 1712, a year after the publication of his "L'estro armonico" collection of violin concertos. This medieval Latin poem describing Christ's mother at the foot of the cross has been set many times over the centuries, and in fact Vivaldi only uses half of the verses, leaving out most of the "let me feel your pain" sections - thus it's a far more dramatic than reflective work. The music for the first 4 verses is essentially repeated for the next four, but with a darker hue; this is followed by 2 more verses of a more optimistic nature, and an Amen that to me sounds a little tacked-on. Marie-Nicole Lemieux seems perfect as the soloist, with a contralto voice that sounds appropriately motherly, becoming impassioned as needed but also singing the dark, low notes in a way that strikes the heart. In the liner notes conductor Jean-Christophe Spinosi remarks on how she makes the music sound like a lullaby. The music throughout is appropriate - listen, for example, to the stabbing strings under "Pertransivit gladius". (As an aside, am I the only person who thinks that the standard English translation, the Victorian one, scans a little too like Poe's Raven to be taken seriously? "At the cross her station keeping/Stood the mournful mother, weeping...")
The Nisi Dominus ("Except the Lord build the house, their labour is but lost that build it") is less immediately dramatic in terms of subject matter and can be considered more of a showpiece. The showman is Philippe Jaroussky, who hopefully needs no introduction.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By F. A. Harrington on April 21, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I admit it. I used to be one of those people who would say "Vivaldi - oh yes, he just wrote the same concerto 300 times" or even "he just wrote the same half a concerto 600 times". And it is true that there have been far too many half-hearted or perfunctory performances presented in too many elevators and hotel lobbies as a symbol of propriety and superficial sophistication to maintain the freshness of his most popular works. But in the right hands and mindset works like the Four SeasonsVivaldi: The Four Seasons and the concerto for two mandolinsRodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez; Concierto Andaluz; Vivaldi: Guitar Concertos et al prove that they deserve the familiarity they've sustained for 300 odd years.

And then of course there is Vivaldi's opera and vocal music to consider as well. While the Gloria enjoys an ubiquity almost on par with the Four Seasons, there is a whole array of sacred and stage music out there awaiting discovery. This disc is a fine place to start.

Nisi Dominus is a setting of Psalm 126 (plus the "Glory Be') from 1703. It begins with a robust minor-key movement and continues alternating fast and slow movements. A particular highlight is fourth track (which begins with the words "Cum dederit dilectis suis somnun" (for so He giveth His beloved sleep). Slow pulsations in the strings (much like in the "Winter" concerto) give way to a calm that will make you want to stay in bed all day. Track seven features a lovely duet for counter-tenor Philippe Jaroussky and conductor Jean-Christophe Spinosi on viola d'amour which typifies the solemnity and beauty of the piece.
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Format: Audio CD
More than 300 years after he lived and died, Vivaldi is a house hold name. Unfortunately, for the wider audience he is only known for his "Four seasons", which, alas, has been played in far too many elevators and supermarkets aisles for anyone to take seriously or to appreciate as the beautiful and energetic music that it is. A lot of people may have the misconception that he was a part of a 17 century wedding band. If you are one of those people, banish those thoughts ( shame on you !!!) and prepare to be blown away.

Stabat matter by Vivaldi, was a revelation to me, and made me look differently at Vivaldi and to further explore his works. I did not expect something so touching and beautiful, music that is simply sublime. This is one of my favorite pieces of music of all time and it opened my horizons to the beautiful sounds of the Baroque, so mysterious and alluring, and so different than what we were taught to think "classical music" is.
The renewed interest in early western and Baroque music in the last century and especially the last 50 years means we can again listen to masterpieces like this, performed by musicians that have dedicated themselves to revealing the almost lost musical legacy of the time in which this music was composed, and celebrating it's magnificence and beauty.
Most notable in this Baroque revival is the huge surge in popularity of Contra tenor repertoire in the last few years, and that is greatly due to Phililppe Jaroussky . He is not only a fabulous singer and performer but has chosen so wisely to collaborate with other outstanding musicians whose understanding and love to the baroque tradition can simply transcend us through time and reveal a whole new world for us.
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Vivaldi - Nisi Dominus & Stabat Mater / Lemieux, Jaroussky, Ensemble Matheus, Spinosi
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