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Recordings

Antonio Vivaldi: Dixit Dominus
11 Sep 2007

VIVALDI: Dixit Dominus

In 2005 the Australian musicologist Janice Stockigt made the case that several works attributed to Baldassare Galuppi in the Saxon State and University Library (Dresden) were really the works of Antonio Vivaldi.

Antonio Vivaldi: Dixit Dominus

Körnerscher Sing-Verein Dresden, Dresdner Instrumental-Concert, Peter Kopp

DG 477 6145 [CD]

$13.99  Click to buy

This recording is the first to feature the newly re-claimed Dixit Dominus from this group of rescued works. “Rescued” may seem a strong word here; Galuppi in his day was without question a preeminent figure in the musical life of Venice, but in our own day he is a figure who must stand in the shadow of Vivaldi, whose canonical stature ensures that “new” works from his pen will enjoy a heightened degree of celebrity.

“Dixit Dominus,” one of the psalms at Vespers, here receives a large-scale setting not unlike the familiar “Gloria” of Vivaldi: short movements follow in succession in a variety of styles that include choral declamations superimposed on bustling, sequence-laden orchestral figuration, contrapuntal movements (rarely developed or complex, except in the final movement), duets featuring imitation and reliance on parallel thirds, and solo writing with melismatic floridity. The variety is an appealing one, though inevitably the whole will also feel somewhat fragmented and undeveloped. Filling out the recording here are three psalms by Galuppi, also from the Dresden library. Though from a later generation—the music is a bit less rollicking and has more “Classical” balance—the Venetian kinship is readily apparent and comprises a nicely cohesive program. Additionally, as all the works come from Dresden sources, the program also reminds of the long reach of the Italian style in the eighteenth century.

The performances are gratifying in many ways: Kopp’s direction offers a secure hand, commanding engagingly quick tempi from choir and soloist alike, taking obvious delight in the famous rhythmic life of the style. The choral agility at the end of the “Dixit” is particularly impressive, but no less so the solo command of often acrobatic challenges. Roberta Invernizzi emerges as the most distinguished of the soloists, and her “Gloria Patri” aria from Galuppi’s “Nisi Dominus” is the high point of the recording. Here her ornamental flair and technical control create a moment of welcome graciousness, all the more rich for its coupling with elegant solo violin playing from the ensemble.

Does the “Dixit Dominus” sound better as a work by Vivaldi than Galuppi? Doubtlessly the way we frame our works of art can powerfully influence the way we perceive them, and our eagerness to have a “new” work by a master composer will shape the way we hear “Dixit Dominus.” Heard as a rediscovered work, there is clearly much to celebrate, and this is a performance that ably sets the celebration on its way. Without the Vivaldi tag, there would still be much to savor, though I suspect we would do so with less ado.

Steven Plank

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