My Favorite Vivaldi Work
I recently said that I’m not a particularly huge Vivaldi fan, which got some reactions from my readers defending his work.
To correct my image as a Vivaldi-basher, I’ve already praised Rachel Podger’s recent release of the Four Seasons.
I haven’t written about my favorite Vivaldi piece of all times, the Gloria RV 589 yet. (Well to be fair, it was mentioned here in this early post about what gives goose bumps to my readers).
RV589 is commonly known as “The” Vivaldi Gloria, but in fact there are others. But in my personal opinion (which is shared by many music lovers), RV589 beats them all. It may well be the most often performed Vivaldi Choral work.
So, if I like it that much, why didn’t I write about it earlier? Well, simply said, because I haven’t yet found my personal reference version.
The version I “grew up with” is the recording with David Willcocks and the King’s College Choir isn’t a bad starting point actually, in spite of it’s age, dating from the 1960s. Most baroque music from this time is heavy, slow and very far away from today’s standard of the historically informed practice, that I barely listen to it (Karl Richter’s b-minor mass being the occasional exception). Not so Willcocks, he was in a way HIP before it became a thing.
Later I discovered Rinaldo Alessandrini. With his ensemble “Concerto Italiano” he is one of the leading interpreters of HIP Vivaldi.
He’s actually recorded this work twice. Both versions have been released and re-released so many times that it is hard to distinguish them. The easiest way is the playing time.
In his first version, he gets through the initial Gloria in Excelsis Deo in a breathtaking 1:55. The poor strings barely get to follow this breathtaking speed. As much as I appreciate baroque music with a certain drive, this is just TOO fast.
You’re much better of with his second recording featuring Sara Mingardo among his soloists. The same Gloria is still fast, but at 2:10 a bit less Mickey Mouse on speed than the first one. So far, this has been my preferred version, but I still feel more can be done.
Therefore, I was very curious when this new recording was released:
Vivaldi: Gloria – Julia Lezhneva – Franco Fagioli – Diego Fasolis (Decca 2018)
I very much liked Russian soprano’s Julia Lezhneva’s early album Alleluia, and also enjoyed her more recent release on arias from Carl Heinrich Graun. I was less of a fan of her release of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.
Diego Fasolis with his Swiss ensemble I Barocchisti is usually very reliable to give you something at least very enjoyable.
The same here, this version is good. The speed is always appropriate, dynamic, but never overly rushed.
Lezhneva is nicely complemented by Franco Fagioli, an excellent countertenor.
Now, is this version my new reference? Well, it’s hard to put my finger on it, but there is something missing. As with Alessandrini, I feel that still “more” could be done. I’m not a conductor nor a musicologist, otherwise I’d probably find better words. Is it the chorus?Anyhow, in the meantime, I’ll close by saying this is very much recommended, but I’ll keep on looking.
Do you have any versions of the RV589 that I should be checking out? Please share!
My rating: 4 stars
You can find it here (Qobuz)
8 thoughts on “Vivaldi’s Gloria RV589 with Diego Fasolis, Julia Lezhneva, and Franco Fagio – A Review”
Praise the Lord and praise Vivaldi! 🙂
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I’m a huge Lezhneva fan. I have heard her concert twice in Budapest. I know her albums. I’ve never heard better “Tu del ciel ministro eletto” than in her angelic voice. This Gloria is a little disappoint for me. You are rigth, something is missing. It is very good but not marvelous.
My explanation comes from my experience that a countertenor always damages the balance of two singers except opera duetts. Good example is the Stabat Mater; Jaroussky is much better then Fagioli but his Stabat Mater with Lezhneva or Emöke Baráth is not so good like Röschmann/Robbin or Prohaska (Piau)/Fink sopran/mezzo albums. The passionate countertenors are always little hysteric except Andreas Scholl.
To back up my opinion, I have two Gloria recording: Muti’s EMI(1999) and Niquet’s ALPHA(2015). Booth of them evade the problem with two female singers or choir.
Thanks for the feedback. I fully agree on your assessment of the Stabat Mater (and on Andreas Scholl by the way)
I know the Niquet recording and like it (although it occasionally lacks some power) but need to check out the Muti.
I’m happy with your opinion.
We have already agreed on some issues.
I made a technical mistake, so I changed from “avaradi” to “anonymous”.
Hi Avaradi, no problem. And again thanks for your feedback!
I listen to a lot of baroque music, and it is my experience that Diego Fasolis’ recordings are always good, just like you say, but they do not ‘lift and fly’, sorry to say it. I’m happy with Alessandrini/Mingardo so far, but I’ll look up David Willcock out of curiosity!
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Thanks for your feedback! Don’t expect miracles from Willcocks but there’s definitely worse out there.
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