Claudio Astronio

Vivaldi: Mottetti Sacri

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The stated goals of this disc of Vivaldi sacred music sound promising enough: conductor Claudio Astronio aims to choose pieces that reflect the influence of opera on the treatment of soloists, of contemporary instrumental music in the string writing, and of a much older phenomenon: the Venetian double-choir tradition. He does this all without resorting to any of the really familiar Vivaldi choral works, and he brings to the table some little-known gems. Many of the arias are fine examples of the vein of spectacular soprano writing that runs through the composer's output, and the somber instrumental introduction to the Kyrie for two choruses and orchestra, RV 587, is superb: a single long, serious breath. The issue with this recording is its use of one-voice-per-part vocal forces. This technique can be justified in north German church music, where it is supported by a certain amount of documentary evidence (although evidence that music was sometimes sung this way doesn't prove that it was always or even ideally sung this way). For Vivaldi, who wrote most of his choral music for the Ospedale della Pietà girls' orphanage in Venice (it still exists, and is still mounting concerts; check the schedule at www.pietavenezia.org), there is a detailed account of the music-making by none other than Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in Book VII of the Confessions. He indicates that the music was sung by a full chorus and describes several girls who sang only during choruses, showing clearly that the chorus was more than just the assembled group of soloists. With just the eight singers of the group Harmonices Mundi, the music sounds swallowed up by the Bozen Baroque Orchestra and by the spaces of the church in the city of Bolzano (in German, Bozen) where the music was recorded. Another odd note is struck by the use of a countertenor, Massimiliano Mauthe von Degerfeld, in the Salve Regina, RV 618; this music was clearly written for female singers. The good news is that the bulk of the music is given over to the marvelous soprano soloists Susanne Rydén and Gemma Bertagnolli, who as a pair are hard to top. Recommended mostly for one-voice-per-part enthusiasts intent on expanding their realm. Booklet notes are in English and Italian, but the texts are in Latin only; they are available in translation online with a little searching.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
7:51
Laudate Pueri Dominum (Psalm 112), for 2 voices, 2 choruses, flute, 2 strings & continuo in A major, RV 602a
2
2:13
3
1:44
4
5:20
5
0:24
6
1:45
7
1:59
8
3:23
9
1:42
Salve Regina, antiphon for voice, double chorus, 2 oboes, double strings & continuo in G minor, RV 618
10
3:07
11
1:38
12
2:49
13
1:23
14
1:46
15
1:56
Kyrie, for double vocal soloists, double chorus, double strings & continuo, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 587
16
4:34
17
2:31
18
0:28
19
2:12
Laudate Pueri Dominum (Psalm 112), for 2 voices, 2 choruses, flute, 2 strings & continuo in A major, RV 602a
20
1:23
21
3:26
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