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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: 25 minutes 13 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)

Beatus vir, RV597
author of text
Psalm 111 (112)

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
At some point before c1719 Vivaldi composed the original version of his Beatus vir in C major. This is lost, but two reworkings of it survive. The better-known (and musically stronger) version, Beatus vir RV597, is for two cori and probably dates from the middle or late 1720s; the other (RV795) was sold by Vivaldi to the Pietà in 1739 and attempts valiantly but rather vainly to update the music through an increased emphasis on movements for solo voice.

RV597 is written on the grandest scale. Its opening movement employs the pompous dotted rhythms associated in Italy with the French style and the regal majesty of Versailles and its equivalents. Vivaldi extracts from the opening movement a refrain that recurs at strategic points during the work as a whole. This use of a motto is in fact quite traditional in settings of the Beatus vir; we find it as early as Monteverdi. The second movement is perhaps, in textural terms, the oddest in all Vivaldi’s sacred music. It is written in only two contrapuntal parts, but each part comprises a solo bass doubled by strings in the appropriate octave. The result is a texture that manages to be lean and massive at the same time. The ‘Gloria et divitiae’ movement for two solo sopranos is a surprisingly effective expansion of the original version for only one soprano using an ‘echo’ technique. Then comes (after a further restatement of the motto) an ‘Exortum est in tenebris’ that contains some effective fugal counterpoint, apt word-painting and an admirable variety in the handling of the two cori. The racy ‘Jucundus homo’ uses the organs of both cori to accompany a soprano soloist. Following this, we arrive at the high point of the work: the terzet ‘In memoria aeterna’ in C minor. This is a highly expressive movement that is much more clever in construction (I refer to its ingenious contrapuntal combination of motives) than it sounds. A rousing chorus, ‘Paratum cor ejus’, and a vivid ‘Peccator videbit’ for solo tenor (in which contrasted tempi are used for special expressive effect) lead, via the motto, to the single movement containing the text of the Doxology. This starts by referring back in the normal way to the opening movement and then turns into a jubilant fugue that hints at plainsong by its conspicuous use of long pedal-notes, which appear at some point in each part.

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)  
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