Vivaldi: The Complete Sacred Music / King, King's Consort

Release Date: 11/8/2005
Label: Hyperion
Catalog Number: CDS44171
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Number of Discs: 11

Physical Format:

CD
In Stock
$69.99
Notes and Editorial Reviews
The existence of a significant corpus of sacred music by Antonio Vivaldi first came to light in the 1920s, when a collection of manuscripts was discovered in the National Library of Turin. Over 50 of his works have survived and the existence of many others has been documented. What is unusual about this is that Vivaldi never held a position that required him to compose sacred music, and other cleric-composers turned their back on the genre altogether. Furthermore, as annotator Michael Talbot observes, “it was difficult to conceive of circumstances in which he would have been asked to provide such music in bulk.”

In 1713, Francesco Gasparini, the maestro di coro at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice where Vivaldi was employed, took a leave of absence, and a permanent one at that. Six years later, the post was still vacant; Vivaldi and another of his colleagues were asked to fill Gasparini’s shoes. Their job was to provide the singers with a river of sacred repertoire (motets, psalm settings, and the like) that would persuade the moneyed populous of Venice to attend performances in the chapel of the Pietà, and perhaps encourage them to make substantial donations and requests to the institution.

Because of restrictions imposed by the administration of the Ospedale, only a trickle of the scared music composed between 1713 and 1719 found its way outside the institution. Some of it did grow legs, however, and found its way to the domain of the Hapsburgs when one Balthasar Knapp acquired several manuscripts before returning to Prague. Again quoting Michael Talbot, this collection “appears to have been the nucleus of a modest Vivaldi cult which flourished in such centres as Prague, Osek , Brno, and even Breslau.” Thanks to Bach’s Czech contemporary, Jan Dismas Zelenka, some of Vivaldi’s sacred music made its way to Dresden, the seat of the Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, Augustus the Strong.

Initially, one may be tempted to compare Vivaldi’s sacred music to that of Bach, but why? Even though both composers were deeply moved by their spirituality and wrote music on a truly inspired level, their styles and forms are different, dictated as they were by the environs and circumstances in which the two men labored, e.g., Vivaldi’s motets are for solo voice and orchestra, while Bach’s follow the North German prototype by using a chorus and continuo. Without casting aspersions upon Vivaldi’s efforts, Bach was unquestionably the better composer, but Vivaldi, too, was capable of writing deeply emotional, dramatic, and moving music, as one finds in the oratorio Juditha Triumphans, RV 644, and in the Agnus Dei of the Gloria in excelsis Deo, RV 589.

The heading for this review has been abbreviated, for if it were printed in the manner normally found in Fanfare, the text and associated superscripts would fill almost half a page, and it would also create a maze of information that would require a map for clarification, so I’ll comment only briefly on the history of the 11 recordings and list the most recognizable of the performers. Originally released between 1994 and 2003, the CDs that make up this collection include some of the most respected early-music soloists in the industry, including Susan Gritton, Catherine Denley, Nathalie Stutzman, Robin Blaze, James Bowman, and Michael George.

Robert King and his ensemble, collectively known as The King’s Consort, have recorded almost 100 CDs for Hyperion. Their catalog includes vocal, instrumental, orchestral, and choral works, including four CDs of sacred music by Bach’s contemporaries. Most recently, they have embarked upon a cycle of the sacred music of Claudio Monteverdi that promises to be as musically rewarding as their previous efforts. But let’s get back to the recordings at hand.

Sometimes in anthologies such as this that are recorded over a number of years using a variety of soloists, one can find inconsistencies, some of which are minor while others are as obvious as the nose on one’s face. However, no such problems exist in Robert King’s traversal of Vivaldi’s sacred music. In fact, there is an amazing degree of consistency from disc to disc. First, the singing by the soloists is ravishingly beautiful, displaying impeccable enunciation, wholesome tone, and deeply felt emotion. When virtuosity is required, vocal agility is on the mark, with melismatic phrases distinguished by a lightness of touch and with each note perfectly centered. The marvelous blend, ease of execution, and enviable control of the chorus combine to make it the envy of others and one of the best around. Orchestral playing is animated and exciting in places, but always evincing a keen feel for the text being supported.

In conclusion, King has given us the ultimate Vivaldi anthology, abundant in energy, rich with emotion, animation, and color, and enshrined in Hyperion’s fabled, warm, and incomparable sound.

FANFARE: Michael Carter
Works on This Recording
1. Magnificat in G minor, RV 610a by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Susan Gritton (Soprano), Lisa Milne (Soprano), Lynton Atkinson (Tenor), Catherine Denley (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
2. Lauda Jerusalem in E minor, RV 609 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Lisa Milne (Soprano), Susan Gritton (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
3. Kyrie in G minor, RV 587 by Antonio Vivaldi
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
4. Credo in E minor, RV 591 by Antonio Vivaldi
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
5. Dixit Dominus in D major, RV 594 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Lynton Atkinson (Tenor), David Wilson-Johnson (Bass), Lisa Milne (Soprano), Susan Gritton (Soprano), Catherine Denley (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
6. In furore giustissimae irae in C minor, RV 626 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Deborah York (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
7. Longe mala umbrae terrores in G minor, RV 629 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Catherine Denley (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
8. Clarae stellae in F major, RV 625 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: James Bowman (Countertenor)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
9. Canta in prato in A major, RV 623 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Deborah York (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
10. Filiae mestae Jerusalem in C minor, RV 638 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: James Bowman (Countertenor)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
11. Nulla in mundo pax sincera in E, RV 630 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Deborah York (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
12. Dixit Dominus in D major, RV 595 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Susan Gritton (Soprano), Catrin Wyn-Davies (Soprano), Catherine Denley (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
13. Domine ad adiuvandum me in G major, RV 593 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Susan Gritton (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
14. Credidi propter quod, RV 605 by Antonio Vivaldi
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
15. Beatus vir in B flat major, RV 598 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Catrin Wyn-Davies (Soprano), Susan Gritton (Soprano), Catherine Denley (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
16. Beatus vir in C major, RV 597 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Susan Gritton (Soprano), Charles Daniels (Tenor), Neal Davies (Bass), Michael [bass] George (Bass), Catrin Wyn-Davies (Soprano), Catherine Denley (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
17. Juditha triumphans, RV 644 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Jean Rigby (Mezzo Soprano), Ann Murray (Mezzo Soprano), Maria Cristina Kiehr (Soprano), Sarah Connolly (Mezzo Soprano), Susan Bickley (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
Written: 1716 ; Italy
18. In turbato mare in G major, RV 627 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Susan Gritton (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
19. Non in pratis, RV 641 "Miserere in F" by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Jean Rigby (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
20. Stabat Mater in F minor, RV 621 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Robin Blaze (Countertenor)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
21. O qui coeli, RV 631 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Susan Gritton (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
22. Deus tuorum militum in C major, RV 612 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Jean Rigby (Alto), Charles Daniels (Tenor)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
23. Confitebor tibi Domine in C, RV 596 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Charles Daniels (Tenor), Neal Davies (Bass), Jean Rigby (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
24. Beatus Vir, RV 795 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Susan Gritton (Soprano), Nathalie Stutzmann (Alto), Hilary Summers (Alto), Alexandra Gibson (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
25. Salve Regina in F major, RV 617 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Susan Gritton (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
26. Laudate Dominum in D minor, RV 606 by Antonio Vivaldi
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
27. In exitu Israel in C major, RV 604 by Antonio Vivaldi
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
28. Nisi Dominus in G minor, RV 608 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Nathalie Stutzmann (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
29. Laetatus sum, RV 607 by Antonio Vivaldi
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
30. Laudate pueri Dominum in G major, RV 601 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Carolyn Sampson (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
Written: circa 1730 ; Venice, Italy
31. Vestro principi divino in F major, RV 633 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Nathalie Stutzmann (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
32. Jubilate o amoeni chori in D major, RV 639 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Nathalie Stutzmann (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
33. Gloria in D major, RV 588 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Charles Daniels (Tenor), Susan Gritton (Soprano), Alexandra Bellamy (Oboe), Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Nathalie Stutzmann (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
34. Sum in medio tempestatum, RV 632 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Tuva Semmingsen (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
35. Laudate pueri Dominum in C minor, RV 600 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Susan Gritton (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
36. Cur sagittas in B flat major, RV 637 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Nathalie Stutzmann (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
37. Sanctorum meritis in C major, RV 620 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Susan Gritton (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
38. Salve Regina in C minor, RV 616 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Nathalie Stutzmann (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
39. Laudate pueri Dominum in A major, RV 602 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Joanne Lunn (Soprano), Carolyn Sampson (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
40. Salve Regina in G minor, RV 618 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Nathalie Stutzmann (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
41. Ascende laeta, RV 635 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
42. Gaude mater ecclesia in B flat major, RV 613 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Susan Gritton (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
43. Vos aurae per montes in A major, RV 634 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Carolyn Sampson (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
44. Gloria in D major, RV 589 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Joanne Lunn (Soprano), Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Joyce DiDonato (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
45. Nisi Dominus in A major, RV 803 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Katherine McGillivray (Viola d'amore), Tuva Semmingsen (Mezzo Soprano), Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Silas Standage (Organ), Colin Lawson (Chalumeau), Jonathan Cohen (Cello), Simon [Classical] Jones (Tromba Marina), Hilary Summers (Alto)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
Written: 1739 ; Venice, Italy
46. Ostro picta in D major, RV 642 by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Carolyn Sampson (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
47. Gloria in D major by Giovanni Maria Ruggieri
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
Written: 1708 ; Venice, Italy
48. Laudate pueri Dominum in A major, RV 602a: Gloria Patri by Antonio Vivaldi
Performer: Carolyn Sampson (Soprano)
Conductor: Robert King
Orchestra/Ensemble: King's Consort
Period: Baroque
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