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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66799
Recording details: October 1998
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: February 1999
Total duration: 18 minutes 36 seconds

'Outstanding!' (Early Music Review)

'A superlative recording and exemplary notes add to the desirability of an absolute must' (Goldberg)

Stabat mater, RV621
composer
1712
author of text
Sequence for the Feast of Seven Dolours of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
This justly popular work belongs to the very first generation of Vivaldi sacred vocal music to be discovered and revived in the twentieth century. Alfredo Casella included it, alongside the even more celebrated Gloria, RV589, in his pioneering ‘Vivaldi Week’ at Siena in 1939, and it has been available in print since 1949. The circumstances that led to its composition for Brescia in 1712 were described earlier. One point needs to be made very clear: unlike the composers of other famous settings of the time—who include Pergolesi, the two Scarlattis, Steffani and D’Astorga—Vivaldi does not set the complete poem of twenty three-line stanzas plus an ‘Amen’, as appropriate for the liturgy of the Mass; instead, he sets only the first ten stanzas, as prescribed when the text is used as a hymn at Vespers. As Deus tuorum militum, RV612, makes plain, the normal way of setting hymns was to repeat the same music for successive verses. Perhaps the Stabat mater text was too long for a purely strophic setting to be contemplated, or perhaps Vivaldi’s ambition and imagination did not permit this. At any rate, the result is a fascinating and unique mixture of the strophic approach (the music for movements 1 to 3 being repeated for movements 4 to 6) and the through-composed approach normal in Psalms.

Moving and expertly written though RV621 is, it betrays the hand of a composer still much more experienced at writing for instruments than for voices. Within each movement, the musical motifs tend to be developed autonomously in a manner that would later be called ‘symphonic’, irrespective of the changing images and emphases in the words. The breath of L’estro armonico, Op 3 (1711), Vivaldi’s first published collection of concertos, is clearly felt. On occasion, however, Vivaldi achieves spectacular effects of word-painting—notably in the seventh movement, ‘Eia mater’, where jagged rhythms express, almost as in a Bach Passion, the scourging of Jesus. The mood is solemn and tragic throughout; Vivaldi restricts himself to the two keys of F minor and C minor, and the tempo moves between moderately slow and extremely slow in a manner prescient of Haydn’s Seven Last Words from the Cross or Shostakovich’s String Quartet No 15.

from notes by Michael Talbot © 1999

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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