VIVALDI: Dixit Dominus

This recording is the first to feature the newly re-claimed Dixit Dominus from this group of rescued works. ìRescuedî 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 ìnewî works from his pen will enjoy a heightened degree of celebrity.
ìDixit Dominus,î one of the psalms at Vespers, here receives a large-scale setting not unlike the familiar ìGloriaî 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 generationóthe music is a bit less rollicking and has more ìClassicalî balanceóthe 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: Koppís 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 ìDixitî 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 ìGloria Patriî aria from Galuppiís ìNisi Dominusî 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 ìDixit Dominusî 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 ìnewî work by a master composer will shape the way we hear ìDixit Dominus.î 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

image_description=Antonio Vivaldi: Dixit Dominus
product_title=Antonio Vivaldi: Dixit Dominus
product_by=Kˆrnerscher Sing-Verein Dresden, Dresdner Instrumental-Concert, Peter Kopp
product_id=DG 477 6145 [CD]