Andreas Scholl, Ensemble 415, Chiara Banchini, Vivaldi: Stabat Mater

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The disc that propelled Scholl into the musical firmament.

This was the recording that first opened my ears to the incomparably beautiful voice of German countertenor Andreas Scholl. It was his silky-smooth production, married to a voice of flawless clarity, that convinced me (and many others) that he was a truly unique singer. This disc took a Gramophone Award in 1986 and propelled Scholl into the musical firmament. No surprise, because it is a terrific achievement, balancing the sensuality of the vocal line with a gloriously Italianate and stylish orchestral accompaniment. The "Stabat mater" is one of Christianity's most poignant creations: the lamenting Mary watching her son crucified on the Cross and then the narrator pleading to share in her sorrow and gain Paradise himself. For me, though, the highlight of the disc is the solo chamber cantata, "Cessate, omai cessate" — Scholl's singing achieves miracles of controlled expressivity that quite takes the breath away.