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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Sacred Music – 10

Gloria RV589
Nisi Dominus RV803
Ostro picta RV642
Giovanni Maria RUGGIERI (fl c1690-1720)

Gloria RV ANH 23 (1708)
Carolyn Sampson and Joanne Lunn (sopranos)
Joyce Didonato and Tuva Semmingsen (mezzo sopranos)
Robin Blaze (counter-tenor)
Hilary Summers (contralto)
Choir of the King’s Consort
The King’s Consort/Robert King
Recorded in St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead, November 2002 except RV803 recorded in All Saints Church Tooting, November 2003 and the Ruggieri recorded in Henry Wood Hall, June 2003
HYPERION CDA 66849 [76.37]


This is the tenth and apparently final volume in the King’s Consort’s Vivaldian quest. If it’s to be the last it ends with a recording coup – the first recording of Nisi Dominus – as well as the Gloria and an intriguing example of the genre by Giovanni Maria Ruggieri, a composer who had a distinct influence on Vivaldi. The King’s Consort demonstrates their collective strengths in Vivaldi’s Gloria – fine tonal blend, well balanced, few obtrusive choral strands. Their performance is flexible but sustained, so for example Et in terra pax is taken rather steadily, quite slowly, but is well supported. Carolyn Sampson and Joyce Didonato prove fine soloists; in Domine Deus, Sampson’s phrasing is simple in the best sense and her lower register is particularly well developed. She has fine resonance in those lower positions that suit the voice well. The band is on good form with lissom fiddles in Domine Fili unigenite even though chorally there were moments when I wondered if articulation couldn’t have been stronger – a greater degree of separation – and legato lessened slightly. Still, in all, a good and impressively performed performance.

The Nisi Dominus was discovered harbouring under the name of Baldassare "Buranello" Galuppi, hardly an unknown - and one of the comparatively few composers to sport a nickname - but no Vivaldi. This missing Psalm setting, provisionally dated to 1739, was for the Pietà and Robert King has authenticated it as a lost, better still, misattributed Vivaldi setting. The first issue of Eighteenth-Century Music, to be published in Spring 2004, will cover the detective work in greater detail. The work is scored for three solo voices and five instrumental obbligatos and proves superbly effective and arch-like in its composition. The solo instruments, a chalumeau clarinet in Cum dederit, a violin in tromba marina (a violin with a modified bridge) in Sicut sagittae and the cello and organ all play their rich parts in colouring the work with expressive intimacies. Tuva Semmingsen proves to have a light but subtle mezzo voice and all make a persuasive case for the work. The Ostro picta RV642 is a light-and-dark work, concise and attractive, whereas greater interest will concern Ruggieri’s Gloria. This is a grand and powerful work and one can easily appreciate Vivaldi’s clear admiration of it. Et in terra pax mines deep seriousness and intensity and the polychoral schema is assured and exceptionally well thought out. There is in fact something almost Bach-like about Qui tollis peccata mundi and here, as elsewhere, the instrumental colour and corresponding vocal flexibility pay rich rewards.

With a fine and full booklet – three languages, full texts – this continues and concludes the highly recommendable series from Hyperion and The King’s Consort.

Jonathan Woolf

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