Beatus vir RV598, a setting in B flat major of Psalm 111 (112), is unique among Vivaldi’s surviving sacred vocal works for one coro in being in a single movement but requiring both choir and soloists. It must have been written for the Pietà during Vivaldi’s first period there (1713–1719). The Psalm text, with nine verses (not counting the Doxology), is far from short and obliges Vivaldi to compose a movement of truly exceptional proportions—420 bars in 2/4 metre. Its style and form are based on that of the instrumental concerto, but on a hugely expanded scale. RV598 contains no fewer than twenty-five separate sections (ritornellos or episodes) and visits six keys besides the tonic. In structural terms, both the choir and the three solo voices (singly or in combination) act in the manner of soloists in an instrumental concerto; for the sake of balance and variety their appearances are judiciously alternated. Admirable, too, is Vivaldi’s thematic economy; an easily recognized cadential phrase of six notes underpins the whole movement.
from notes by Michael Talbot © 1997