Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Beyond 'The Four Seasons'

The solo motets of Vivaldi are proving to be quite a treasure trove. One of my favourites is In furore iustissimae irae, RV626. Scored for soprano and strings, it opens with an exciting aria where the singer (here Simone Kermes, above - with hair that's apt for the music of the Red Priest!) trembles before the righteous anger of God. The string writing creates a scintillatingly stormy backdrop for the dazzling virtuosity of the singer. The string writing will probably remind you of the Vivaldi of the concertos while the vocal writing will doubtless put you in mind of opera. The spare textures of the central passage provide an admirable contrast. After a short, softly rocking recitative where the singer pleads for forgiveness, Vivaldi gives us a second the second aria ('Tunc meus fletus' - 'Then shall my weeping'). This is an absolute beauty - lyrical, exquisite, unforgettable. Anyone who still labours under the illusion that Vivaldi lacks depth should take a listen to this number. In the aria the singer asks Jesus to make her truly repentant. The motet ends with an ‘Alleluia’ that brings back the exciting spirit of the opening aria and calls forth yet more feats of vocal display from the soprano.

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