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