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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Les Orphelines de Venise
Kyrie, RV 587 [9.06]
Gloria, RV 589 [25.16]
Sinfonia al Santo Sepolcro, RV 169 [3.21]
Credo, RV 591 [9.12]
Concerto Madrigalesco, RV 129 [4.15]
Magnificat, RV610a [12.11]
Anna Reinhold (mezzo-soprano)
Les Cris de Paris/Geoffroy Jourdain
rec. live, 27/28 September 2015 Ambronay Festival, Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Ambronay, Ain, France
Full Latin texts and translations in English German and French

This Vivaldi album, made up of four sacred choral works and two instrumental scores with connections to the Venetian Ospedali della Pietà, is performed by Les Cris de Paris recorded live in 2015 during the Ambronay Festival. Geoffroy Jourdain has devised the programme - a totally imaginary compilation of a messa intiera (complete mass) by Vivaldi, using his extant works.

It is well known that much of Vivaldi’s music was composed especially for the Ospedali della Pietà one of four Venetian orphanages, established for the care of unwanted babies, usually female. Funded by charity, including assistance from public concerts, the Pietà was able to engage the services of many high quality musicians and composers. Contrary to the principles of the Church of Rome the young women of the Pietà were permitted to sing in the Ospedale church. Television documentaries about Vivaldi often show the young women musicians and singers positioned in the upper galleries of the church, hidden behind patterned grills and screens. An excellent essay in the booklet by Jourdain explains the subject of the Ospedali della Pietà in more detail.

The opening work is the Kyrie, RV 587 in three movements, the only setting of this text that Vivaldi wrote. Next comes the Gloria, RV 589 Vivaldi’s best known sacred setting. A hymn of praise, it’s a substantial work in eleven movements that is thought to have been performed in 1713 at the Pietà. The parts for male voices in the score for the all-women Pietà have never been satisfactorily explained. In the Laudamus te I especially enjoyed the striking singing of soprano soloists Amandine Trenc and Judith Derouin and in the Domine Deus the serene voice of soprano Victoire Brunel. My personal highlight of the album, however, is the Domine Deus, Agnus Dei with mezzo-soprano soloist Anna Reinhold singing with remarkable vocal purity and piety of expression.

Following on is the short Sinfonia al Santo Sepolcro, RV 169, an Adagio molto and an Allegro ma poco played continuously. Next the Credo, RV 591 in four movements, the composer’s only authentic setting of the Nicene Creed. Another instrumental work, the two-movement Concerto Madrigalesco, a concerto for string orchestra, RV 129, a commission from the Pietà. The final work the Magnificat, RV610a, is one of several settings the composer made of the Marian Hymn. A commission from the Pietà governors, this eight-movement setting was composed around the late 1720s. Remarkable in the memorable Et exultavit spiritus meus are the radiant solo contributions from sopranos Amandine Trenc and Adèle Carlier, with mezzo Anna Reinhold.

Founded by Geoffroy Jourdain, the ensemble Les Cris de Paris consists of a nineteen-strong choir of young women, including soloists, and some eighteen musicians on period instruments. Under Jourdain’s direction the performance throughout is to an especially high standard. The women’s chorus displays an impressive unity and appropriate reverence for the sacred texts and thankfully their voices have not been robbed of their individual character in a quest for pin-point precision. Clear and alert playing of the period instruments contains a delightful balance of sensitivity and expression. Recorded in live performance at Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Ambronay, an old Benedictine abbey in the French village of Ambronay, the sound engineers have provided clarity and good balance. Full credit to the label for providing the Latin texts with English, German and French translations in the booklet which should be de rigueur for releases such as this.

Michael Cookson



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