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Longe mala, umbrae, terrores, RV629
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'Vivaldi: Sacred Music, Vol. 2' (CDA66779)
Vivaldi: Sacred Music, Vol. 2
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'Vivaldi: The Complete Sacred Music' (CDS44171/81)
Vivaldi: The Complete Sacred Music
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Movement 1: Longe mala, umbrae, terrores
Movement 2: Recedite, nubes et fulgura
Movement 3: Descende, o caeli vox
Movement 4: Alleluia

Longe mala, umbrae, terrores, RV629
Longe mala, umbrae, terrores, RV629, a motet of the mid-1720s, is also suitable ‘per ogni tempo’. Its first aria bids the ills of this world—war, plague and general misfortune—disappear; in a recitative the clouds recede so that, in the second aria, the ‘vera lux’ [true light] can shine down on humankind from heaven. The ‘Alleluia’ returns to the rather truculent mood of the opening, perhaps illogically in the light of the motet’s ‘programme’ but with excellent effect in purely musical terms.

It is not known for what occasion or institution this exceptionally brilliant and vocally taxing motet was written. One thing is virtually certain: it was not composed for the Pietà. While this might suggest that the intended singer was more probably a male castrato, it is important not to view high vocal parts of the time as gender-specific. Vivaldi did indeed tend to customize his motets, but always tailored them to an individual singer, not to a gender (over the choice of which composers and audiences tended to be very pragmatic).

from notes by Michael Talbot © 1996

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