Vivaldi: Gloria, RV 588; Dixit Dominus

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Decca L’Oiseau-Lyre
WORKS: Gloria, RV 588; Dixit Dominus
PERFORMER: Catherine Bott, Julia Gooding (soprano), Christopher Robson (countertenor), Andrew King (tenor), Simon Grant (bass); New London Consort/Philip Pickett
CATALOGUE NO: 458 837-2
The first thing to make clear is that the Vivaldi Gloria setting on this disc is not the well-known one (RV 589) but the other, RV 588, written during roughly the same period (1713-19). The piece is just as good as its celebrated brother; maybe, indeed, even better, though the reliability of any such judgement is perhaps compromised by over-familiarity on the one hand or the welcoming of freshness on the other. The ‘Laudamus te’ movement, which as in RV 589 is a duet for two sopranos – Catherine Bott and Julia Gooding – is just one of a whole sequence of several winning numbers, gently lilting, harmonically adventurous. I also like the pastoral siciliano ‘Qui sedes’, sung here by the alto Christopher Robson with a delicacy and restraint that he doesn’t show throughout the disc. His natural falsetto range (if that’s not a contradiction) lies unusually high and is heard to break into an ugly chest voice for the lower notes in the preceding ‘Introduzione’, the mini-cantata (just an aria and recitative) Jubilate o amoeni chori. The other major work on the disc is the Dixit Dominus, RV 595, discovered in Prague only in the late Sixties. Sometimes the music bears a striking resemblance in manner to Handel’s slightly earlier youthful setting – the strident, bellicose rhythms, for instance, of the verse ‘Donec ponem inimicos’ – and the liveliness of Philip Pickett’s directing serves this colourful work well, though proves challenging to a fault in ‘Dominus a dextris tuis’, where Bott’s runs are a touch breathless. By contrast, her singing of this work’s ‘Introduzione’, the mini-cantata Ascende laeta, seems curiously lacking in colour, the New London Consort in safety-first mode. My previous benchmark for this Gloria was Harry Christophers and The Sixteen on Collins. The cleanliness and energy of this reading, helped by the leaner forces Pickett uses, means that it usurps that account, however. Stephen Pettitt