Movement 01: Dixit Dominus
Movement 02: Donec ponam inimicos tuos
Movement 03: Virgam virtutis tuae
Movement 04: Tecum principium
Movement 05: Iuravit Dominus
Movement 06: Dominus a dextris tuis
Movement 07: Iudicabit in nationibus
Movement 08: De torrente in via bibet
Movement 09: Gloria Patri, et Filio
Catherine Denley (contralto), Charles Daniels (tenor), Michael George (bass), King's Consort Choir, The King's Consort, Robert King (conductor)
Movement 10: Sicut erat in principio
Movement 11: Et in saecula saeculorum
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