In 1701 Antonio Vivaldi was appointed violin teacher at the Ospedale della Pietà – an orphanage that specialised in musical training for young girls. The choir master, Francesco Gasparini, retired in 1713 and his successor was not deemed to have been successful enough as a composer; Vivaldi was selected to provide all compositions required for the chapel. It was during this time that Vivaldi composed the works recorded on this disc. In addition to these pieces, it has since been discovered that there was a contractual requirement for the choir master to compose two new settings of the Mass and Vespers for Easter and the Feast of Visitation. If we take it that Vivaldi kept to these conditions throughout the time he was engaged to compose for the Pietà, we can assume that the composer wrote much more sacred music than has come down to us; the magnificent works on this recording provide just a snapshot of Vivaldi’s brilliance in this genre.
The Gloria in D is Vivaldi’s most popular choral work and one of his most extensive settings of a liturgical text. The bright opening ‘Gloria’ is well known among choral singers and instrumentalists alike, with much of the vocal writing exploring the very limits of the tonality that was common at the time. The work ends with a resplendent fugue: ‘Cum Sancto Spiritu’. The Magnificat in G minor is another of Vivaldi’s masterpieces. It originally appeared in several different versions; the one performed here is final version – arranged for a performance at the Pietà in 1739 – which contained five newly-composed concertante solo movements with string accompaniment, intended for the very best young musicians in the school. Both the Gloria and the Magnificat would have been performed by girls and women, who are said, somewhat surprisingly, also to have covered the lower vocal parts. Recorded in 1989 and with soloists such as Andrea Ihle and Elisabeth Wilke and string accompaniment from specialist early music ensemble Virtuosi Saxoniae, this disc is a must-have for fans of Vivaldi’s sacred music.
- This release contains two of Vivaldi’s most famous sacred works, the Gloria and the Magnificat.
- Vivaldi’s Gloria (RV589) is one of the most popular choral works ever written and performed, by both professionals and amateurs alike. Its jubilant mood, beautiful arias and festive orchestral accompinament fully justify its fame. The darker Magnificat in G minor is a superb, mature work, expressing Maria’s feeling of wonder and devotion in concertante solo movements to string accompaniment.
- Excellent performances in Historical Practice style by the elite group from Germany, the Virtuosi Saxoniae, led by trumpet virtuoso Ludwig Güttler.
- Booklet contains liner notes and full sung texts (Latin).