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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Suonata a Quattro al Sepolcro, RV 130 [3.34]
In Furore iustissimae irae, RV 626 [14.01]
Concerto a Quattro Op. 12, No, 3 RV124
Concerto a Quattro, RV 129 "Madrigalesco" [4.14]
Laudate pueri, Dominum, RV 601 [24.32]
Sinfonia al Santo Sepolcro RV 169 [3.15]
Catherine Bott (soprano), The Purcell Quartet
Recorded at St. Bartholomew’s Church, Orford 4-6 March 1996. DDD

A re-issue from Chaconne of a delightful collection of rather interesting works by Vivaldi, here performed excellently by The Purcell Quartet and Catherine Bott. As well as the obvious choral/vocal works, many of Vivaldi’s instrumental pieces were also composed for religious services. It is impossible to say which – if any – instrumental works were purely secular. Some fine examples are provided here.

The disc commences with a skilfully-fashioned Suonata a Quattro al Sepolcro, which immediately shows the players’ mastery of this repertoire, and their outstanding level of ensemble playing – sensitive and understanding.

The following work, In Furore iustissimae irae, introduces Bott’s distinctive and sweet voice with the exciting aria "In furore iustissimae irae". She creates a suitably plaintive mood in the aria "Tunc meus fletus", and demonstrates great versatility and agility in the ensuing Alleluia.

The music in the Concerto a Quattro "Madrigalesco" (meaning "in the style of vocal polyphony") may strike one as oddly familiar – most likely because the listener will be better acquainted with the vocal works on which it is based. Again the Purcell Quartet give a polished yet warm performance.

The Laudate pueri, Dominum is probably the main gem here. It is a charming work, full of innovation, not least by including the highest note anywhere in Vivaldi’s sacred music, and the use of the transverse flute as an obbligato instrument. A fairly virtuosic work for the voice, Bott carries it off with flair. From the operatic "Sit nomen Domini benedictum" to the gentle, searingly beautiful and lyrical "A solis ortu usque ad occasum", she combines a welcome lightness of touch and richness of tone, whilst showing dexterity and a greatly impressive range with some extremely demanding high notes!

All these works are taken at a good steady pace, and the playing is accomplished throughout. Bott’s lush and mature soprano captures the nuances well, and brings a sparkle to these gorgeous works. A combination of wonderful music and exquisite music-making that I definitely recommend.

Em Marshall

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