WORKS: Stabat mater, RV 621; In turbato mare; O qui coeli terraeque serenitas; Confitebor tibi, Domine
PERFORMER: Susan Gritton (soprano), Jean Rigby (contralto), Robin Blaze (countertenor), Charles Daniels (tenor), Neal Davies (bass); The King’s Consort/Robert King
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66799
Following his acclaimed Juditha triumphans, Robert King continues his survey of Vivaldi’s sacred music by returning to the works for solo voices, previously featured on Vol. 2 of the series. The best-known piece here is the early Stabat mater, sung with great tenderness and sensitivity by countertenor Robin Blaze. Two solo motets for soprano are assigned to Susan Gritton, who sings the stormy In turbato mare with passionate authority, then reveals a tone of pellucid beauty for the imploring O qui coeli terraeque serenitas. Jean Rigby’s liquid contralto is ideally suited to the introduzione Non in pratis aut in hortis, the hushed penitence of its sole aria punctuated by gently grieving strings.
Even the minor ‘Deus tuorum militum’, a Vesper hymn for contralto and tenor, has a winning vitality. The closing Psalm Confitebor tibi, Domine, a relatively late work from 1732, shows Vivaldi’s mastery of counterpoint, its brilliantly wrought three-part setting (for contralto, tenor and bass) executed here with skill and panache.
King and his performers deserve all praise, though the greater part surely belongs to Vivaldi. His sacred works, which had lain forgotten for 200 years, have re-emerged as one of the major musical ‘finds’ of the century.