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Track(s) taken from CDA66769

Dixit Dominus, RV594

author of text
Psalm 109 (110)

King's Consort Choir, The King's Consort, Robert King (conductor)
Recording details: August 1994
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: April 1995
Total duration: 23 minutes 3 seconds


'Very special indeed… The ebullient notes come bouncing off the page and just when it seems that everyone is giving their stupendous all, Robert King manages to squeeze a little extra. A Dixit Dominus to sweep you off your feet. Volume 1 is going to be a hard act to follow' (Classic CD)

'The production values on this disc could hardly be bettered. I don't know what Hyperion is feeding their recording equipment but these are some contented cows and they produce pure Devonshire cream. This is deep sound, the kind the listener practically feels he can reach out and touch. There is scarcely a church or concert hall anywhere in the world with an ambience this sensual … One of the finest discs to have come my way this year. Look for this one on my year-end Want list. But don't wait till December, buy it now' (Fanfare, USA)

‘Lustrous, immaculate performances’ (The New Yorker, USA)
The Dixit Dominus, RV594, is without question the grandest of Vivaldi’s surviving concertato works in several movements and employs a double choir and orchestra. Because it is the opening psalm in all the sequences of five psalms sung at Vespers, settings of the ‘Dixit Dominus’ often have, as here, a ceremonial, introductory character. Vivaldi’s choice of D major, a bright key suitable for trumpets, conforms to common practice. The opening two movements, an exultant chorus in D major followed by a more reflective one in B minor, follow a pattern recognizable not only from Vivaldi’s earlier setting of the same psalm (RV595) but also from his two settings of the Gloria (RV588 and 589). The statuesque quality of some of the vocal writing in the opening movement recalls plainsong, while on the word ‘Sede’ Vivaldi conveys very effectively the motion of sitting down. The first four notes of the ‘Donec ponam’ chorus (falling from B to F sharp) present the germinal motive of the whole composition. The two choruses are succeeded by two elegant ‘church arias’, respectively for soprano and alto. Then comes a powerful chorus on ‘Iuravit Dominus’ which exploits antiphony between the two choirs. In the second section, ‘Tu es sacerdos’, Vivaldi shows off his fugal technique and command of triple counterpoint (where any of the three subjects can function as a bass to the others). Towards the end he throws in a typical piece of word-painting, illustrating the idea of eternity (‘aeternum’) with long notes.

The ‘Dominus a dextris tuis’ is cast as an energetic duo for tenor and bass. The notion of the Lord ‘striking through kings in the day of his wrath’ is brought out vividly by some virtuosic coloratura passages. For the Day of Judgement (‘Iudicabit in nationibus’) Vivaldi brings back the two trumpets, which begin the movement with seven unaccompanied bars exploring almost the whole of the instrument’s practical compass. Later on, rapid string figurations add greatly to the drama as the Lord continues his work of retribution and destruction.

The alto solo ‘De torrente in via’ brings a welcome touch of peaceful lyricism (semiquaver triplets evoke the rippling of the brook) before an abridged version of the opening movement ushers in the Doxology (‘Gloria Patri’). Vivaldi’s setting of the second part of the Doxology (‘Sicut erat in principio … Amen’) is his most elaborate essay in fugal counterpoint. The eight vocal parts are kept independent throughout, and in many passages the instruments, too, have separate parts. The eight-bar fugue subject, which begins with the ‘germinal motive’, is identical in shape to the opening of the bass in Bach’s ‘Goldberg’ Variations. In fact, this was a popular chaconne bass of the time. The fugal treatment, which causes the ‘bass’ often to migrate to the upper voices, heightens the sense of monumentality and provides a thrilling climax.

from notes by Michael Talbot © 1994

Other albums featuring this work

Vivaldi: The Complete Sacred Music
CDS44171/8111CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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