the music of Vivaldi was rediscovered, about fifty years ago,
only his instrumental music was performed. It took some time
to discover that the master of the Italian concerto had also
composed religious music worth performing and recording. Since
then some of his religious compositions have reached considerable
popularity. Among Vivaldi's religious output there are quite
a number of works for the Vesper liturgy. 'Dixit Dominus', a
setting of Psalm 110 (109), is one of them. So far two settings
of this text by Vivaldi are known, RV 594 and 595. The RV number
of the setting recorded here seems to show that it is a late
discovery and was only recently added to the catalogue although
the booklet doesn't quite make clear whether this piece was known
before or was only discovered recently. It is clear, though,
that it wasn't immediately recognized as a composition by Vivaldi,
as in the manuscript it was attributed to Baldassare Galuppi.
In the 1750s or 1760s the Roman-Catholic court in Dresden was
looking for new religious music from Italy. Scores were ordered
from the best-known copying shop in Venice, which was owned by
a priest, Don Giuseppe Baldan. He sent some pieces by Vivaldi,
but attributed them to Baldassare Galuppi, by then the most famous
composer in Venice, and generally known by his nickname, 'Buranello'.
This 'Dixit Dominus' was only identified as a work by Vivaldi
in 2005 by the Australian scholar Janice Stockigt. It is one
of four compositions by Vivaldi from the Sächsische Staatsbibliothek
in Dresden which are falsely attributed to Galuppi.
is a long and brilliant composition, which is divided into choruses
and solo passages, often of a very virtuosic character. The tenor
aria "Dominus a dextris tuis", for instance, is like
a movement from a violin concerto: the tenor gets hardly any
time to breathe. Paul Agnew deals with this problem admirably.
There is some text expression as well: the second movement ("Donec
ponam" - "I shall make of your enemies a footstool
for you") is dominated by descending figures, and the solo
part is appropriately given to the alto. The orchestra depicts
the rippling of the water in the 8th movement ("De torrente"): "He
will drink from a brook by the way ...".
the booklet Vivaldi expert Michael Talbot explains what the reasons
are to believe that this piece was composed by Vivaldi. But even
when one doesn't read his arguments and just listens to the work
itself its Vivaldian character is obvious. It is very hard to
believe, for instance, that the tenor aria I referred to before
could been written by someone other than Vivaldi.
if this piece had been composed by Galuppi there would be no
reason to ignore it, considering its excellent quality. And the
remaining compositions on this disc - also three Psalm settings
which are part of the Vesper service, this time really written
by Galuppi - are of considerable quality as well, and show that
Galuppi was a fine composer. Stylistically they belong to a different
era, which is demonstrated by the frequent alternation of soli
and tutti within movements. "This flexibility looks forward
to the church music of Joseph Haydn and his contemporaries, who
undoubtedly learned a lot from Galuppi, technically and aesthetically",
Michael Talbot writes. It has to be added, though, that there
is alternation of this kind in some movements of Vivaldi's Dixit
Dominus as well, which have led to the assumption this setting
is a work from late in Vivaldi's career.
Galuppi we find some interesting text illustration as well: in
'Nisi Dominus' the orchestra depicts the flight of the arrow
("like arrows in the hand of the mighty are the children
of one's youth"). Melismas are written on words like 'somnum'
(sleep - 'Nisi Dominus') and 'aquae' (waters - 'Lauda Jerusalem').
And 'panem doloris' (bread of sorrows) is expressed by dissonance
chords. One of the most moving parts is the "Gloria patri" from
'Nisi Dominus', set as an aria for soprano, breathtakingly sung
by Roberta Invernizzi.
music on this disc is of great beauty, and here receives the
best possible performance. I have only mentioned two of the soloists
by name, but the others are just as good. I knew the choir from
recordings with German music, and I had a positive impression
of its quality, but here it even surpasses its previous performances.
And the Dresdner Instrumental-Concert gives a strong and colourful
reading of the orchestral parts, showing that performing Italian
music appropriately isn't a prerogative of Italian orchestras.
Johan van Veen