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Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Vespro A San Marco
Soloists and Chœur de Chambre de Namur; Les Agremens/Leonardo Garcia Alarcón
rec. 2 October 2010, abbatial church, Ambronay, France. DDD
AMBRONAY AMY029 [69:52 + 47:56]

Experience Classicsonline

CD 1
Deus in adjutorium
Deus in adjutorium [0:08]]
Domine ad adjuvandum [2:15]]
Gloria [3:21]
Sicut erat in principio [2:15]
Sancti tui Domine [0:41]
Dixit Dominus, RV 807
Dixit Dominus [1:36]
Donec ponam [2:40]
Virgam virtutis [2:19]
Tecum principium [1:40]
Juravit Dominus [1:34]
Dominus a dextris tuis [1:48]
Judicabit in nationibus [1:39]
Implebit ruinas [0:53]
De torrente [3:03]
Gloria [3:17]
Sicut erat in principio [3:06]
In caelestibus regnis [0:31]
Confitebor tibi Domine, RV 596
Confitebor tibi Domine [2:34]
Memoriam fecit [2:51]
Sanctum et terribile [2:11]
Intellectus bonus [1:43]
Gloria [1:17]
Et in saecula saeculorum [1:07]
In velamento clamabant [0:31]
Beatus vir, RV 795
Beatus vir [2:25]
Gloria et divitiae [1:56]
Exortum est [3:25]
Jucundus homoi
In memoria aeterna [4:37]
Paratum cor ejus sperare [2:34]
Dispersit [2:47]
Peccator videbit [3:23]
Gloria [2:33]
CD 2
Spiritus et animae [0:32]
Laudate pueri, RV 600
Laudate pueri Dominum [1:55]
Sit nomen Domini [2:50]
A solis ortu [1:48]
Excelsus super [2:44]
Quis sicut Dominus [2:14]
Suscitans a terra [1:27]
Ut collocet [1:48]
Gloria [2:35]
Laudate pueri Dominum [1:32]
Amen [1:45]
Fulgebunt justi [0:26]
Lauda Jerusalem, RV 609
Lauda Jerusalem [6:13]
Lux perpetua [0:49]
Magnificat, RV 610
Magnificat [1:13]
Et exsultavit [1:52]
Et misericordia [3:40]
Fecit potentiam [0:25]
Deposuit potentes [0:50]
Esurientes [1:20]
Suscepit Israel [0:56]
Sicut locutus [1:35]
Gloria [2:18]
Oremus [0:56]
Laetatus sum, RV 607
Laetatus sum [3:12]

Vivaldi was following in the footsteps of Monteverdi when he wrote the motets, Psalm settings, choruses and other solo and ensemble liturgical pieces which are traditionally grouped together into one of the most striking and musically varied musical Offices - that of Vespers. We can assume Vivaldi intended his works in the genre for performance as acts of worship at San Marco since he was not maestro di cappella at the Pietà, the charitable refuge for girls of the city in which he worked for so long. Though we do not know for which occasion or occasions. But you should make no mistake: this recording - for all its merits - is first and foremost an otherwise un-gathered collection.
Essentially, the Vespro consists of eight 'numbers' that form a collection to be performed in the evening. Certainly in the case of Venice and San Marco it lends a sumptuous, celebratory feel to the service. But what Vivaldi wrote in his Deus in adjutorium, Dixit Dominus (RV 807), Confitebor tibi Domine (RV 596), Beatus vir (RV 795), Laudate pueri (RV 600), Lauda Jerusalem (RV 609), Magnificat (RV 610) and Laetatus sum (RV 607) make - to our ears - more of a series of 'performances' in their own right than do those of Monteverdi from the beginning of the previous century. But they share the same forceful purpose: to enhance, reinforce and celebrate the participants' belief at a time (the evening) when, perhaps, the matters of the day had been pressing. In this way, Vivaldi's settings and music have a directness and undiluted manner to aid such dedication. This performance serves such a purpose well. At the least the artists bring nothing extra or superfluous to the enterprise; at best, they convey the music's splendour and dignity.
The substantive opening of the Vespro, the Dixit Dominus was once attributed to Galuppi, but has recently been confirmed as that of Vivaldi. It follows the call to attention of the Deus in adjutorium and is itself followed by five familiar psalms each with companion antiphon and closes with the Magnificat. It's necessary to bear in mind when listening to Argentinean Leonardo Garcia Alarcón's 'evocation' - not quite so unequivocal as a 'reconstruction' - that there were choices as to which of Vivaldi's works to use. Knowing this, the listener is in a better position to decide how fitting and successful each choice may or may not be. It's likely that you'll reach the conclusion that the musicians' judgement is a good one and appropriate works have been chosen from Vivaldi's sacred corpus.
The soloists and choir of the accomplished Chœur de Chambre de Namur and the instrumentalists from Les Agremens are completely in step with the required tenor, pace and simplicity. And there is very little of the spectacular on these two CDs. No superfluous atmosphere.
Yet nothing is missing. There is a plain and persuasive conviction to the fugal movements (such as the Intellectus Bonus [CD.1 tr.20]) and to the more thoughtful moments (Beatus Vir [CD.1 tr.25], for instance) as well as those which one would expect to be rhetorical (the Confitebor's Gloria [CD.1 tr.22], say). There’s also unostentatious dignity on the part of the soloists in particular in those where the music is truly exhortative - the short Et in Saecula Saeculorum [CD.1 tr.23], for example. The singing and playing are contained. There is no rushing of gesture; no exuberance. Indeed, one might at times find that there is almost a lack of vivacity. If you see this instead as sobriety and consistency you'll find the music to be just as enjoyable.
The enunciation is at times a little forced. Naturally, it's in the French Latin tradition … listen to the Virgam Virtutis [CD.1 tr.8], for example. Similarly, the delivery of vocal lines in the Juravit Dominus [CD.1 tr.11] would work just as well in a Rameau end-of-act as it does here. On the other hand, the words are all clearly audible and the playing precise, crisp and penetrating without being too pointed or disjointed.
The sound quality is clear and supports the reflective and introspective moments of the collection just as well as it does the dramatic and declamatory passages. The notes that come in the short booklet with the Ambronay CDs are plain and informative. Significantly, Alarcón makes the point that we hear more Vivaldi in the opera house than in liturgical works. His aim was to restore the balance. He's done it admirably.
Mark Sealey


































































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