Gerard Hoffnung CDs
Antonio LOTTI (1667–1740)
Dixit Dominus [29.33]
Christina Steude (soprano)
Annekathrin Laabs (soprano)
David Erler (alto)
Tobias Berndt (bass)
Batzdorfer Hofkapelle/Manfred Jung
rec. Lukas Kirche, Dresden, 22-24 October 2005
CPO 777 180-2 [66.08]
Lotti is perhaps still best known for his polyphonic sacred
music. His music written in the stile antico, drawing
on 16th century models, gained currency during
the sacred music reform movements of the late 19th and
early 20th century. But this is to ignore a considerable
body of music written in other styles, notably his stile
concertato sacred music which is explored on this new
was born in Venice, to a musical family. His early teachers,
Fuga and Legrenzi, were both employed at St. Mark's Basilica
in Venice and Lotti's career was to be inextricably linked
to this church. He became a chorister in 1692, going on to
become second and then first organist. In this capacity he
served for more than thirty years. Much of his sacred music
was composed for St. Mark's.
also composed operas for various Venetian theatres and the
popularity that this brought him, gave rise to a court appointment
as music-director of the court in Dresden. Lotti spent two
years in Dresden, taking with him a company of Italian singers,
before returning to his post at St. Mark's in Venice.
in Dresden his opera Teofane was premièred. But Lotti
also assumed responsibility for the performance of sacred
music on special occasions in the Catholic court chapel.
Lotti raised the standard of music in the chapel and the
works performed on this disc come from manuscripts preserved
in Dresden. It may be significant, though, that a catalogue
of 1765 also lists a cut down version of the Dixit Dominus,
perhaps indicating that the full version was too extensive
for regular use.
psalms settings on the disc are all taken from the Vespers
service; the principal occasion for grand concerted music
at the time. Lotti's pieces are heavily influenced by Venetian
models and his settings stick pretty closely to the standard
design for these pieces. His concern seems not to have been
to create a new and innovative construction, but to decorate
well established models. He thus gives each movement its
own distinctive instrumental character. This gives the performers
a number of opportunities and the Batzdorfer Hofkapelle and
the Sachisches Vocalensemble respond admirably.
opens Dixit Dominus with a lively movement which alternates
chorus and soli; though in the Dixit Dominus and Laudate
Pueri, Lotti uses his soloists like a semi-chorus as
well as giving them individual solos. The following movements
are varied: a triple time, dance-like Virgam virtutis;
an also solo Tecum Principus with a lovely oboe solo;
the grand, choral Juravit Dominus with trumpets, and
so it goes on. Lotti carefully constructed this sequence
of short movements to give a variety of contrasts of timbre
and forces. The solo writing is not really virtuoso, only
in De torrente do we get something like an elaborate
vocal line, complete with a violin solo.
Lotti's solo quartet consists of two sopranos, alto and bass
with no tenor. Barbara Christina Steude, Annekathrin Laabs,
David Erler and Tobias Berndt make a beautifully balanced
group, blending well in the solo ensemble sections. Berndt
has a lovely flexible baritone voice, Erler has a smooth
alto and both Steude and Laabs have attractive, focused voices.
Pueri Lotti dispenses with his chorus and sets the
work for two sopranos and bass solo. But the construction
is similar to Dixit Dominus with a variety of short
movements mixing style, timbre and vocal/instrumental forces.
The result is undeniably attractive and equally well performed
as the Dixit Dominus.
The two main works are supported by two smaller ones, a choral setting of
Psalm 115 and a short setting of Psalm 116 for soli, chorus and orchestra.
none of the works on the discs really plumbs the depth of
meaning of the texts, they are all charmingly constructed
and highly attractive. Just the thing to keep the attention
of the Court at Vespers on Sunday evening.
The choir deliver a bright, young sound and make the most of their choral
contributions. The singers are beautifully supported by the Batzdorfer
Hofkapelle who give a lively, lithe performance and contribute some fine
performances are perhaps not quite up to the sophistication
of the top-flight early music groups. But that said, this
is an attractive programme given with charm, poise and a
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