Movement 1: Salve regina
Movement 2: Ad te clamamus
Movement 3: Ad te suspiramus
Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto), The King's Consort, Robert King (conductor), Christine Garratt (flute)
Movement 4: Eia ergo advocata
Movement 5: Et Jesum benedictum
Movement 6: O clemens, o pia
The vocal part is both higher in register and more flamboyant than its counterpart in RV618. Unexpectedly, the singer is described as ‘la cantante’ in an instruction found in the instrumental parts: therefore, most definitely a woman. Since female participation in sacred music was very exceptional for the period, this points unambiguously to the Ospedale della Pietà as the place of performance. The problem then is that whereas various indices (paper type, the use of flute, relationship to other compositions) suggest a date of composition around 1730, this is a period when the Pietà possessed its own maestro di coro, Giovanni Porta, and thus when Vivaldi would not ordinarily have been asked to supply it with compositions of this kind. The mystery remains.
The scoring of the six movements follows a typically symmetrical pattern. The outer movements employ flutes in addition to strings. Movements 2 and 5 dispense with woodwind but are otherwise fully scored. The two inner movements both have simplified accompaniments. Movement 3, ‘Ad te suspiramus’, reduces the instruments to an obbligato flute plus the strings of the first coro, while movement 4 employs doubling very copiously to produce a lean texture.
Attentive listening will show how Vivaldi selects key words in the antiphon text as prompts for illustrative effects. For example, the second movement fixes on the word ‘clamamus’ (‘we cry out’) and accordingly engenders an urgent, breathless mood. In the third movement it is the word ‘suspiramus’ (‘we sigh’) that sets the tone, with frequent short rests representing the drawing in of breath. Perhaps the loveliest instance of word-painting occurs in the final movement, in which the exclamation ‘O’ is given special prominence, heightening the expression of adoration for the Virgin.
from notes by Michael Talbot © 2002
English: Josée Bégaud