Vivaldi: Laudate pueri, Dominum, RV 600; In furore, RV 626; In turbato mare irato, RV 627; O qui coeli terraeque serenitas, RV 631

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COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Laudate pueri, Dominum, RV 600; In furore, RV 626; In turbato mare irato, RV 627; O qui coeli terraeque serenitas, RV 631
PERFORMER: Patrizia Ciofi (soprano); Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi
CATALOGUE NO: 545 7042
The most extended and perhaps the most satisfying pieces on each of these discs are two entirely distinct settings for soprano solo of the Vesper psalm Laudate pueri, Dominum. Patrizia Ciofi in her new release of sacred vocal works by Vivaldi sings the earlier C minor setting with strings, though in this instance violinist/director Fabio Biondi has introduced a bass trombone to the continuo accompaniment of its fourth movement, ‘Excelsus super omnes’. If there is a precedent for doing so either here or in the ‘Suscitans a terra inopem’ then I am unaware of it. It also makes a surprise and somewhat absurd appearance in the second aria of the motet In turbato mare irato. Vocal stamina is of the essence in this and each of the other vocal pieces here. Ciofi has a mellifluous vocal timbre and a notably warm mezzo range which complements Vivaldi’s sensibility in textual colouring. Catherine Bott’s brighter sound and accomplished virtuosity serve to enliven the later, altogether more theatrical setting of the psalm. This one, which has long struck my ears as among Vivaldi’s finest creations in the sacred vocal sphere, introduces in addition to the string texture with doubling oboes a solo flute to the ‘Gloria Patri’. The oboes are, however, omitted in the Purcell Quartet’s recording. Both singers deliver the virtuosic ‘In furore justissimae irae’ with fluency and precision. But Ciofi’s third movement Largo is superficial and hard driven and she is too inclined to scoop up to notes. In this instance, at least, Bott’s more controlled and thoughtful approach is to be preferred. Both discs by and large do justice to these rewarding works and, apart from reservations already expressed, contain much to enjoy. Nicholas Anderson

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