Hyperion Records

Sanctorum meritis, RV620
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This unpretentious setting is of a hymn belonging in the liturgy to the Common of Two or More Martyrs. To take just two examples, it would be appropriate for Vespers of the feast of SS. John and Paul or of SS. Cosmas and Damian. It seems to date from the 1720s, and its original destination is unknown.

The hymn has six stanzas, of which Vivaldi sets only the first, third and sixth. In typical fashion, each stanza has the same music and is preceded by an identical instrumental ritornello. This ritornello illustrates Vivaldi’s fondness for grouping phrases in threes rather than twos; its twelve bars subdivide as 4 + 4 + 4.

Everything about this setting is simple, but Vivaldi rescues it from banality by his use of lightly syncopated (‘sawing’) rhythms. By such discreet means, he is able to turn artlessness into something genuinely artistic.

from notes by Michael Talbot © 2002

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