This review first appeared in the print edition of Opera Canada.
Divine Karina is a compilation of tracks from previously released Gauvin records on the ATMA Classiques label. There’s Purcell, plenty of Handel, Bach and other baroque composers with ventures into Mozart, Mahler and even Britten. Accompaniment is, mostly, by an assortment of Quebec period bands though the Orchestre Métropolitain with Nézet-Séguin put in an appearance for the Sehr behaglich from Mahler’s Fourth. There’s a previously unreleased track as a bonus; a duet with her Las Vegas based sister in a sort of lounge jazz style.
Gauvin fans will know what to expect of her singing. She has a very pure voice with an absolutely clean top end, a true baroque trill and pinpoint accuracy in long runs. Her attention to text is exemplary too. For example, in the long runs of Rejoice Greatly, she enunciates every consonant clearly. No mean feat. There are perhaps times when one might wish for a little more resonance by way of contrast but that’s nit picking. The accompanying bands match her well with stylish and idiomatic performances on, for the most part, period instruments.
No information is given on recording locations but all the tracks are clear and bright in a way that suits the music. No texts are included with the disc which otherwise is presented quite handsomely.
This is very much a sampler rather than a recital and keen Gauvin collectors will find it superfluous. Others may find it a good introduction. Personally, on the basis of what’s on this disk, I’d be inclined to buy her Purcell and Handel albums and take it from there.