Nederlands Kamerkoor; Harry van der Kamp
ATMA ACD2 2533
Whether or not younger composers in Scarlatti’s day described his music as boring or old-fashioned, Scarlatti’s abilities were acknowledged by no less than Pope Clement XI and Queen Christina of Sweden. For many years, Scarlatti was not well-paid and he moved from city to city before returning to Naples. This moving around is reflected in the selection of vespers on this CD; they were dispersed in several European cities and are also difficult to date. They can roughly be dated from 1703-1708 and 1714-1720 when Scarlatti’s age ranged from 43 to 60.
In the opening track, Dixit Dominum, soloists Barbara Borden and Margrit Stok add a celestial quality to Scarlatti’s setting. Barbara Borden’s name features throughout – she is a mainstay of this recording. Even the shortest and, dare one say it, hurried settings such as Laetatus sum and Nisi Dominus (Psalms 121 and 126) are infused with joy; the combined voices of the Nederlands Kammerkoor are given free rein. Perhaps most uplifting, however, is Ave Maria Stella, its verses with their intimate pleas interpreted clearly and intensely by smaller groups of singers.
All in all, this is an attractive and varied collection of Scarlatti’s settings of vespers. The criticisms made against him by his contemporaries are answered here, whether or not he is a fashionable composer nowadays or he preferred not to change his style.