WORKS: Beatus vir, RV 795; Salve regina, RV 617; Laudate Dominum, RV 606; In exitu Israel, RV 604; Nisi Dominus, RV 608
PERFORMER: Susan Gritton (soprano), Nathalie Stutzmann, Hilary Summers, Alexandra Gibson (contralto); The King’s Consort & Choir/Robert King
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66809
Vivaldi’s sacred music continues to offer up gems. The most fascinating work on Vol. 6 of Robert King’s excellent series is the psalm setting Beatus vir, RV 795, which Vivaldi sold to the Pietà in 1739. Unlike his earlier, well-known Beatus vir, RV 597, this later setting has languished in obscurity, partly because until recently it was misattributed to Galuppi, partly because it contains some exceptionally low parts for the female voice. (These would have presented no problems to the Pietà’s all-female choir, in which women sang both tenor and bass parts, though the latter may at times have been raised an octave.) Here the solo parts for tenor and ‘pseudo bass’ (in the alto range) are sung with impressive assurance by Hilary Summers and Alexandra Gibson; their terzet, ‘In memoria aeterna’, with Nathalie Stutzmann, is among the psalm’s loveliest moments.
Also on the disc are two psalm settings for choir (RV 604, RV 606); the early Salve regina, RV 617, for soprano and strings, sung with graceful authority by Susan Gritton; and the popular, oft-recorded Nisi Dominus, RV 608, sung here by Nathalie Stutzmann, though her fruity, heavy contralto is sadly no match for the exquisite finesse and melting beauty of Andreas Scholl’s recent countertenor version on L’Oiseau-Lyre. Graham Lock