Classical reviews: November 9

> Steffani: Stabat Mater, etc. Cecilia Bartoli mezzo-soprano and other singers, I Barocchisti. Decca CD.

With authentic instruments conducted by Diego Fasolis, Bartoli continues to promote the virtues of music by Agostinio Steffani that were displayed in her previous best-selling album Mission. It is also her first Stabat Mater since her Pergolesi disc.

But in this 12-part, 25-minute work, plus half a-dozen other short previously unrecorded pieces of sacred music, the diva does not attempt to steal honours that are shared with a fine international team of other soloists.

Indeed, it is her seven-minute solo motet Non plus me Ligate that thrills best with that unmistakable voice, complete with vibrato and trills. The composer's choral work is certainly quite impressive, and the Stabat Mater is full of gravitas and passion.

Highlight: Baroque brilliance by Steffani.


> Homeward Bound. Bryn Terfel (bass-baritone), Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Deutsche Grammophon CD.

The Orchestra at Temple Square accompanies mammoth vocal forces: the Tabernacle Choir has 360 voices and the Welsh star also has great flair that can produce impressive volume. Yet I found this was a disappointing disc, seeming almost a pot-boiler.

Terfel played the villain with relish in his solo album Bad Boys, but here he mostly has a tired and unexceptional role as good boy in What a Wonderful World, Home on the Range, Shenandoah and Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Yes, How Great Thou Art, Deep River and When the Saints Go Marchin' In (plus the Welsh Cwm Rhondda) are perhaps meant to restore our admiration but the singing assemblage seemed to lack an inspirational spark.

Highlight: Faith's Call, with a Mormon link.


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