Vivaldi, Motets, Andreas Scholl, Australian Brandenburg
Orchestra, Decca 289 466 964-2
Vivaldi’s great concertos are well known — poor children
hum them while playing in the street and Feminist priestesses
nourish their potted ferns with vitamins and Vivaldi.
But Vivaldi’s vocal music remains a vast unknown country
just now being explored, which exploration began with the first
recordings of the famous Gloria (RV 589) many years ago and which
now includes several operas, one in a fine video production
by the San Francisco Opera.
To be perfectly clear, I should say that this is the
other Vivaldi Gloria, RV 588, not the
Vivaldi Gloria, RV
589, which is more usually played, except, that is, for the
last movement Cum sancto spiritu which is the same for both Vivaldi Glorias, and isn’t by Vivaldi anyway.
Apparently it was a favourite movement of the times and
got copied into lots of people’s masses — no surprise since
it’s a superb piece of music, well worth hearing at every opportunity.
And, this is also apparently the other Dixit Dominus,
the later RV 594 being more often played.
This is not absolute top-drawer Vivaldi, but is still
very fine music by the standards of other composers. The instrumentalists and chorus perform beautifully,
the chorus sopranos having the approved “white” sound indicating
that they are either boys or girls who know how to sound like
boys. This Dixit
Dominus is a very fine work and the performance is committed. A good half dozen of these movements, particularly
the vocal ensemble numbers, are exceptionally well done and
much worth hearing. The
solo voices are “modern,” the tone leaning toward what would
be acceptable in a church performance of Messiah. The solo sopranos in the “Et in Saecula Saeculorum”
sing very beautifully, but they don’t sound anything whatever
like boys, nor like Andreas Scholl.
If that is a problem for you, you won’t like this performance. The Scholl disk is the opposite end of the spectrum,
informed original performance practice, and Scholl sings perfectly
in style. Although both disks feature soprano motets, there
are no works in common between the two disks.
The DVD-Audio sound is richly and room-fillingly ambient but still very clear.
see also Reviews
by John France