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Hyperion Records

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Venice: The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day by Antonio Canaletto (1697-1768)
Reproduced by permission of The Trustees, The National Gallery, London
Track(s) taken from CDA66789
Recording details: January 1997
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: May 1997
Total duration: 23 minutes 1 seconds

'A rewarding issue, well documented and spaciously recorded' (Gramophone)

'Performances and recording quality are exemplary' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Robert King's revelatory series cannot fail to enhance the status of Vivaldi's choral music. His sparkling attack and consistently fine choice of soloists have revealed unexpected masterpieces' (Classic CD)

'The superlatives flow just as easily as reviews on the previous two discs have done' (Organists' Review)

'Outstanding performances that have vitality and fervour without sacrificing clarity' (Goldberg)

'Robert King réalise dans chaque pièce une belle progression dynamique, sans aggressivité, avec une pression jubilatoire qui n'oubli jamais le contenu spirituel des textes' (Répertoire, France)

'Interpretaciónes magnificas' (Ritmo, Spain)

Dixit Dominus, RV595
author of text
Psalm 109 (110)

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Until the late 1960s the only setting of the Psalm Dixit Dominus by Vivaldi known to exist was the splendid one for double choir, RV594, preserved in Turin. Then, unexpectedly, a second setting, similarly large in scale but this time for a single coro (with divided sopranos in some movements), was discovered in the National Library in Prague. The history of its manuscript, which survives as a set of locally copied separate parts, is complex and enigmatic. This new Dixit Dominus, RV595, was almost certainly composed for the Pietà before 1717 and may have been among the works taken back to Bohemia by Balthasar Knapp. The manuscript is dated 1738; a note in the second violin part connects the work with the Jesuit seminary of St Francis Xavier in Prague’s New Town, adjoining the square known as the Cattle Market. After the Jesuit order was suppressed throughout Bohemia in 1773 the manuscript passed to the military order of the Knights of the Cross (usually known by their German name of Kreuzherren), whose church in Prague held a vast stock of sacred works by Vivaldi and his Italian contemporaries.

It is slightly embarrassing to have to admit that no fewer than three of the movements of RV595 are closely based on material borrowed from other men. Vivaldi’s personal collection of sacred vocal music by other composers, today found alongside his own compositions in the National Library in Turin, provided an irresistible temptation for him whenever he decided, or felt obliged, to include a movement in the strict (or neo-Palestrinian) style for which he had little training or, perhaps, inclination. He must have been very wary of being found out: I deduce this from the fact that his two known borrowings from a printed source—the collection of Duetti, terzetti e madrigali a più voci published in 1705 by his fellow Venetian Antonio Lotti (an organist at the ducal church of S. Marco who later rose to become its primo maestro)—are much more heavily disguised than those of the manuscripts, mostly unattributed, in his own possession. Fortunately, Vivaldi, like Handel, was usually able to make improvements to the material he appropriated, and this is true of all three borrowings in RV595.

Dixit Dominus, Psalm 109 (110 in Protestant Bibles), is invariably the first of the five Psalms sung at Vespers on Sundays or feast days. This explains both the frequency of its setting and its tendency to festive grandiloquence. In his orchestra Vivaldi includes a trumpet in D (the keynote of the work) and a pair of oboes, exactly as in the ‘second’ Gloria, RV588, which may be contemporary with it. The Psalm gets off to a dazzling start—the pointillistic orchestration of its opening chorus (listen especially to the wind instruments) is complemented by incisive rhythms and some delicious word-painting for ‘sede’ (‘sit thou’)—in the five-part choral writing. As in his ‘other’ Dixit Dominus and both of his Gloria settings, Vivaldi casts his second movement as a patiently unfolding, slow chorus in B minor; the pedal-note at its climax supports some of the most affecting harmonies he ever wrote. A cheerful ‘Virgam virtutis’ for solo soprano in G major is succeeded by an even livelier ‘Tecum principium’ with novelty instrumentation (so beloved at the Pietà): here two solo cellos partner a pair of sopranos above. The fifth movement, bipartite, opens with a severe ‘Juravit Dominus’ for chorus (where the alto acts like a cantor, to whom the other three voices respond), followed by a very brief ‘Tu es sacerdos’; the latter is a borrowing, with small improvements, from an anonymous Dixit Dominus dated 1708 (RVAnh.27). The first soprano then has another solo (‘Dominus a dextris tuis’), before an evocation of the last trump appears in the ‘Judicabit’, giving way to a suitably agitated ‘implebit ruinas’. The ‘De torrente’ provides a lyrical interlude for solo alto, where unison violins conjure up the lapping motion of a brook. Now the Doxology begins. First we have a charming choral terzet for alto, tenor and bass, almost in the style of seventeenth-century bel canto. This is a cunning paraphrase of the martial opening section of Lotti’s Inganni dell’umanità from the collection already mentioned. The terzet leads straight into the ‘Sicut erat in principio’, which, acting out a familiar musical pun, is an abridged restatement of the opening movement. The triumphant concluding fugue on ‘Et in saecula saeculorum’ is a rescored and cleverly expanded version of its counterpart in an anonymous Laudate pueri Dominum, RVAnh.29, which dates right back to 1690.

from notes by Michael Talbot © 1997

Other albums featuring this work
'Vivaldi: The Complete Sacred Music' (CDS44171/81)
Vivaldi: The Complete Sacred Music
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £40.00 CDS44171/81  11CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'The King's Consort Baroque Collection' (KING4)
The King's Consort Baroque Collection
MP3 £4.50FLAC £4.50ALAC £4.50 KING4  Super-budget price sampler — Deleted  
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