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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66849
Recording details: November 2003
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: February 2004
Total duration: 21 minutes 47 seconds

'for King's sterling service to the Vivaldian cause, one of his most important recording and satisfying projects to date, I am thankful' (Gramophone)

'This final disc in Robert King's justly acclaimed complete edition of Vivaldi's sacred music is the project's crowning glory' (The Daily Telegraph)

'With Robert King, there is never a question about technical polish or keen musicianship. These are stunning performances … I would not hesitate to recommend the present disc to anyone looking for a recording of THE Gloria, both for the quality of this performance and because of the accompanying pieces, which surely must fascinate any listener with an interest in Vivaldi's most famous sacred work' (American Record Guide)

'The accomplished, precise and colourful orchestra is led by the ever vigourous and sensitive King, and the technically irreproachable and spot-on choir with its formidable bass section … is especially noteworthy' (Gramophone Early Music)

'So we have reached the end of a long, immensely rewarding trail. Brilliant, invigorating, uplifting, King's sacred music intégrale shines like a beacon in a dark world that has largely lost the ability to engage with spiritual celebration. More prosaically, it now becomes the core reference archive for Vivaldi's sacred music, a skilfully planned, superlatively engineered set of discs that will take an honoured place in recording history … as we know, there are many different ways of interpreting this repertoire, but Robert King seems to have one of the best grips on it yet by way of his energetic and unmannered view. The agile and responsive soloists, the alert and nimble chorus, and the disciplined and finely honed orchestra are all right on the mark, never wavering in either proficiency or commitment. This is a real winner, and a shoo-in for our Classical Hall of Fame' (Fanfare, USA)

Nisi Dominus, RV803
author of text
Psalm 126

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
‘What RV803?’, I hear someone asking. This magnificent work came to light just in time to serve as the keystone of the present series of CDs devoted to Vivaldi’s sacred vocal music, of which this disc is the final offering. In May 2003 I received a tip-off from the Australian musicologist Janice Stockigt that among the Galuppi sacred vocal works in the Sächsische Landesbibliothek in Dresden that she was studying there was an anomalous Psalm setting, which contained obbligato parts for viola d’amore, chalumeau (‘salmò’ in Venetian dialect) and an instrument described as ‘tromba marina’ (which turns out to be not an actual trumpet marine but a ‘violino in tromba marina’, a violin with a modified bridge that causes it to sound like this bowed monochord). She suspected, absolutely correctly, that the ostensible composer, Baldassare Galuppi (whose name appears on the title-page of the score as ‘Buranello’, his nickname), was not the real composer, and wondered whether this Nisi Dominus in A major did not belong to an earlier period. I instantly had four thoughts: first, that only the Pietà (with which Galuppi had no known connection) would have used these instruments; second, that only Vivaldi would have had the audacity to use all three together; third, that among the set of Psalms that Vivaldi supplied to the Pietà in 1739 there was a ‘vacancy’ for a missing Psalm answering to the present description; fourth, that since the Beatus vir in its 1739 version (RV795) preserved in Dresden was wilfully misattributed to Galuppi by its Venetian copyist, Iseppo Baldan, notorious among scholars for his forged attributions, this might well be a companion piece from the same stable.

My subsequent work to authenticate the work as a composition by Vivaldi soon established that all of these hunches were correct. (Those who are interested can read an introductory article on it in the first issue of the new journal Eighteenth-Century Music, scheduled to appear in spring 2004.) This was indeed the last of the group of five Psalms for which Vivaldi was paid in 1739 to be identified (the other four are RV604, RV609, RV795 and the incompletely preserved RV789).

And what a work! Vivaldi scores it for three solo voices – soprano, contralto and ‘tenor’ (actually, a contralto whose part is written in the tenor clef) – and five obbligato instruments (in addition to the three mentioned above, solo cello and solo organ appear), with the usual strings and continuo. The setting allots a separate movement to each verse (of which there are six, plus the two for the Lesser Doxology). Its structure is almost perfectly symmetrical. The outer movements, based on common material, employ all three voices with orchestra. The second and sixth movements are for solo voice, one obbligato instrument (viola d’amore and cello, respectively) and continuo. The third and fifth movements are for solo voice and orchestra (with the ‘violino in tromba marina’ added in the latter case). The sensational fourth movement, the ‘calm at the heart of the storm’, is for one voice, obbligato chalumeau and a bass alternating between unison violins and unharmonized continuo. Even the key scheme, A–D–G–C–G–D–A, is symmetrical. This tidy order is broken, however, by the seventh movement, which is in a minor key (E minor) and is scored, like the fifth movement, for a solo voice, orchestra and an obbligato instrument (organ). The solo voices ‘progress’, as the composition unfolds, from alto (movements 2 to 4) to ‘tenor’ (movement 5) and finally soprano (movements 6 to 7).

This ‘second’ Nisi Dominus by Vivaldi (the first is the familiar RV608, in G minor) is easily the most attractive work in the 1739 set. It shows how thoroughly Vivaldi was influenced, during the 1730s, by the dominant galant style, and how enterprising he continued to be, even at the very end of his career, in his choice of instrumental colours. This is truly his ‘swan song’ for the Pietà.

from notes by Michael Talbot © 2004

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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