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Then the concert began with a performance of Vivaldi's Beatus Vir RV765. This is one of Vivaldi's longer settings of the Psalm and dates from 1739. It opens with a choral movement and then seven solo movements are punctuated by choral repetitions of the psalm's opening phrase, concluding with a choral movement. The choral sound is lighter and brighter than in a mixed voice choir. Though lacking the depth of resonance that men can bring to the bass part, the female bass voices carried very well and supported the sound admirably. The result has a slightly softer edge and is remarkably attractive.
The solos were sung by members of the choir. And whilst every performer did not achieve an equal level of perfection, they all performed admirably and showed what talented performers the choir possesses.
The Beatus Vir was followed by Vivaldi's Violin Sonata in C minor RV6, played by the leader of the instrumental ensemble, Persephone Gibbs. This was followed by the psalm In exitu Israel (RV604) which was part of the same cycle of psalm settings as the Beatus Vir. Only in this psalm, Vivaldi's aim seems to have been compression. No solos, the text of the long psalm sung at breakneck speed by the choir. The result was a choral tour de force. You could almost feel Vivaldi smiling.
Copyright © 10 January 2007
Robert Hugill, London UK