Vivaldi: Gloria, RV 589; Dixit Dominus, RV 594; Magnificat, RV 610

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Gloria, RV 589; Dixit Dominus, RV 594; Magnificat, RV 610
PERFORMER: Sarah Fox, Deborah Norman (soprano), Michael Chance (countertenor), James Gilchrist (tenor), Jonathan Lemalu (bass); Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Academy of Ancient Music/Stephen Cleobury


This disc contains some of Vivaldi’s most ebullient, theatrical and vivid sacred music. Indeed, although none of the works contributes to the assertion, still often made, that Vivaldi tended to repeat himself, there is by the end of the disc a feeling of a surfeit of freneticism, partly down to Stephen Cleobury’s lively conducting. Sensitive souls who can take only so much energy are best advised to listen to a single work at a time, given such energy, such dazzling colours, and the fact that moments of reflectiveness are few, even in the slow numbers. All of the soloists sing well. Sarah Fox and Deborah Norman giving lively, light-voiced accounts of their three duos (one in each work), while Michael Chance seizes his own moments with his usual ardour. The tenor James Gilchrist and the young bass Jonathan Lemalu combine well in their verse in the Dixit Dominus, ‘Dominus a dextris’. There’s crisp and, where possible, expressive orchestral playing from the Academy of Ancient Music, and the singing from the boys and men of King’s College, Cambridge, is generally muscular and positive, though their vowel sounds are still a touch too English. The recording is excellent, so that even with an old-fashioned plain stereo set-up there’s a good sense of the wide, resonating spaces of the chapel. My benchmark for the Gloria remains Andrew Parrott’s gentler, but radical version, with the Taverner Choir and Players on Virgin Veritas. A plainchant Kyrie forms a prelude to Parrott’s reading, which is sung by women only (tenor and bass parts transposed upwards an octave), positing a viable and very beautiful answer to the question of how the work was performed by the girls of the Pietà. Stephen Pettitt