Vivaldi: Gloria; Magnificat; Concerto in D minor, RV 243; Concerto in D, RV 563

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COMPOSERS: Vivaldi
LABELS: Opus 111
WORKS: Gloria; Magnificat; Concerto in D minor, RV 243; Concerto in D, RV 563
PERFORMER: Deborah York, Patrizia Biccire (soprano), Sara Mingardo (contralto); Akademia, Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
CATALOGUE NO: OPS 30-195
Justifying his somewhat eccentric approach to Vivaldi’s familiar Gloria, Alessandrini writes that an interpreter has to ensure that ‘his contribution is genuinely new and valid’. His reading is certainly new, most obviously in the opening chorus (repeated at ‘Quoniam tu solus sanctus’), which sounds for all the world like a manic chase involving the Keystone Cops. About the ‘valid’ I’m not so sure, though I appreciate the intention to instil a theatrical impulse, both here and in the Magnificat. A touch of histrionics can be sensed in the outlandish gap between penultimate and final chords, and in the exaggerated contrasts of tempo (offsetting the speed-chases is a languidly elegiac ‘Domine Deus’ from Sara Mingardo, in wonderfully sepulchral voice). Deborah York and Patrizia Biccire are the two fine soprano soloists and the French vocal ensemble Akademia make exemplary contributions.

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The ‘novelty’ concerto in D minor, RV 243 (in which the solo violinist is directed to play without using the E string, and, in the finale, to retune the G string to A), makes an apt interlude to the sacred pieces – it may have served that function in Vivaldi’s time – while RV 563, whose instrumentation is a matter of controversy, sounds exhilaratingly convincing with two trumpets and oboe. Barry Millington