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First we had Cecilia Bartoli with her melodramatic variation on Vivaldi's "Spring" and now it's Andreas Scholl's turn to give vocal Vivaldi a quality outing. Bartoli's collaborators were the combustible Il Giardino Armonica and her programme, principally dramatic. Scholl's sequence is sacred and his "backing group", the excellent -- though rather more temperate - Australian Brandenburg Orchestra under Paul Dyer. Two rarely-heard string concertos (RV141 and 109) serve as interludes between Nisi Dominus, Clarae stellae, scintillate, Vestro Principi divino and Salve Regina. Few will need convincing that Scholl's milk-and-honey countertenor is a "great voice'. But to hear him glide through the solemn siciliana Cum dederit delectis (track four) to a dark accompaniment of organ, lower strings and a plucked continuo is to recall the otherworldly auras of Ferrier, Deller and Heynis. Singers such as these are rare in any generation, and we're lucky that Scholl belongs to ours.

First we had Cecilia Bartoli with her melodramatic variation on Vivaldi's "Spring" and now it's Andreas Scholl's turn to give vocal Vivaldi a quality outing. Bartoli's collaborators were the combustible Il Giardino Armonica and her programme, principally dramatic. Scholl's sequence is sacred and his "backing group", the excellent -- though rather more temperate - Australian Brandenburg Orchestra under Paul Dyer. Two rarely-heard string concertos (RV141 and 109) serve as interludes between Nisi Dominus, Clarae stellae, scintillate, Vestro Principi divino and Salve Regina. Few will need convincing that Scholl's milk-and-honey countertenor is a "great voice'. But to hear him glide through the solemn siciliana Cum dederit delectis (track four) to a dark accompaniment of organ, lower strings and a plucked continuo is to recall the otherworldly auras of Ferrier, Deller and Heynis. Singers such as these are rare in any generation, and we're lucky that Scholl belongs to ours.

Richard Strauss was not noted for his religious sensibilities, and yet when Hugo van Hofmannsthal asked him to prepare a ballet based on "the young Joseph", Strauss initially took to the idea like a duck to water. Regrettably, the lake soon drained and he was left stranded with "a long and laborious job". The dancer Nijinsky had wanted "pure Strauss" and he cannot have been too disappointed, at least not with the soaring melodies that adorn Potiphar's Wife or the Salome-like eruptions that anticipate Joseph's torture. Some aspects of the score seem to misfire. "Searching and Wrestling after God" sounds like dutiful hack work, scene-change music quite bereft of inspiration, whereas the start of Potiphar's funeral procession wouldn't have been out of place in a Disney cartoon. The orchestra is huge, the language resonant of Salome, Die Frau ohne Schatten, Tod und Verkärung and Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, and Giuseppe Sinopoli's superb new Dresden Staatskapelle recording is ardent almost to a fault.

Joseph's Legend is a luxuriant 64-minute wallow, but I suspect that, as a listening experience, it'll be subject to the law of diminishing returns. Not so a new Saint-Saëns programme where Steven Isserlis tackles the assertive but unfamiliar Second Cello Concerto (with the NDR Symphony under Christoph Eschenbach) and the epic Second Sonata (with pianist Pascal Devoyan). Isserlis's eloquent annotation makes as strong a case as any for this most productive and urbane of musical Frenchmen and his playing does much the same in performance terms.

There's also a likeable Romance Op 67 but the jewel of the programme is a tone poem for cello, violin and orchestra called La Muse et le Poÿte. Quite why this gorgeous essay isn't "standard rep" eludes me, though it would take the likes of Isserlis and Joshua Bell to do it justice. So here's an idea for a future Prom: Chausson's Poÿme, La Muse et le Poÿte and Brahms's Double Concerto.

Eschenbach conducts, liberating the score's wistful romanticism with characteristic finesse. If you love early orchestral Debussy then your pleasure yield is guaranteed. The recordings are first rate.

Vivaldi Scholl, Dyer Decca 466 964-2

Strauss Sinopoli DG 463 493-2

Saint-Saëns Isserlis, Eschenbach RCA Red Seal 09026 63518 2

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