Hyperion Records

Salve regina, RV617
Vivaldi left three surviving settings of the Marian antiphon Salve regina. Two are for solo alto and instruments laid out in two cori dating from the 1720s at earliest. Unexpectedly, the third setting—RV617, a much earlier work for soprano and strings in F major—survives only in a non-autograph manuscript preserved in the Moravian Museum in Brno, Czech Republic. It may have travelled to Bohemia in 1717 together with a group of manuscripts of sacred works by Vivaldi collected by Balthasar Knapp, secretary to Count Kinsky.

A highly unusual feature of the work in Brno is the scoring of its opening movement, in which the accompaniment consists of solo violin and continuo alone. There is a universal convention in Baroque music that the outer movements of a multi-movement work should be fully scored: it is in the inner movements that the texture can be lightened or varied. Only in RV617 does one find Vivaldi departing from this principle in a sacred vocal work. If there is a hermeneutic reason underlying his choice, it may be a desire to make the solo violin stand for Mary herself, to whom the soprano addresses his or her prayer. In the second movement, ‘Ad te clamamus’, the string tutti enters. The third movement, ‘Eia ergo’, brings soloist and tutti together in a rich, concerto-like texture. The final movement, ‘Et Jesum’, is a rocking siciliana in which the tutti and the solo violin accompany by turns. Without question, this is one of Vivaldi’s most original sacred vocal compositions, and one in which his experience as a composer of concertos is most apparent.

from notes by Michael Talbot İ 2000

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