Vivaldi: Laudate pueri, RV 601; Gloria, RV 588

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LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Laudate pueri, RV 601; Gloria, RV 588
PERFORMER: Susan Gritton, Carolyn Sampson (soprano), Nathalie Stutzmann (contralto), Charles Daniels (tenor); The King’s Consort & Choir/Robert King
Vol. 7 of the King’s Consort’s survey of Vivaldi’s sacred vocal music contains, in a setting for solo soprano of the psalm Laudate pueri, the vocal piece which I treasure almost above all other by the composer. Carolyn Sampson’s youthful voice, athletic technique and well-defined articulation are well suited to this virtuoso piece, originally sung, it would seem, by a castrato. It’s a late work, dating from around 1730 and composed for the Dresden court whose musicians had long held Vivaldi in high esteem. Much of the writing has a Rococo airiness and there is some effective word-painting, especially of the sunrise in ‘A solis ortu’. Sampson sings this movement sensitively, though I felt the need for more inflective subtlety in the radiant opening section. The remainder of the programme comes over with vigour and precision, and there are some strong contributions from Susan Gritton, Nathalie Stutzmann and Charles Daniels. They all feature in the Gloria which, incidentally, is not the well-known one but ‘the other one’, belonging to the same period, and deserving of being mentioned in the same breath. One other solo vocal piece, ‘Vestro Principi divino’, belongs to the alto register, and is sung with tonal warmth and disciplined technique by Stutzmann. Both qualities serve the music rather well, rendering beautiful those higher notes of the tessitura which too often elude countertenors. Nicholas Anderson