Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Dixit Dominus RV 594

vivaldi sketch captioned 150x180This setting  of Psalm 110 (Vulgate 109) is a gloriously grandiose concertato spread over several movements and employing a double choir and orchestra. Following a brief instrumental introduction it opens with two choruses, the firsts is a chorus in D major that captures the psalmist’s exultant tone, the second in B minor is somewhat more reflective. (You can hear the same pattern in his Dixit Dominus RV595 and in his  two settings of the Gloria RV588 and 589). These two opening choruses which in some ways recall plainsong  are followed by two ‘church arias’ for soprani and alto respectively. The chorus that follows on from these ‘Iuravit Dominus…’ features some wonderful antiphonal writing and in the second section (Tu es sacredos …) some fugal writing and triple counterpoint. There’s some word-painting towards the end when he depicts eternity (aeternum) using long notes. The sixth movement ‘Dominus a dextris tuis …‘  is a vigorous duo for tenor and bass with some vivid coloratura depicting God at the Psalmist’s right hand ‘striking through kings in the day of his wrath’.

Vivaldi gives the Angel who blows the trumpet on the last day a run for his money by using two trumpets to begin the movement depicting that day with seven unaccompanied bars that pretty much encompass that instruments usable range at the start of the next movement ‘Iudicabit in nationibus …‘ the Lord continues to exact retribution amongst the heathen nations and Vivaldi heightens the drama with some rapid string figurations. He brings us down again in the next movement with the alto solo ‘De torrente in via bibet‘ before reprising the opening movement for the start of the doxology. The second part of the doxology ‘Sicut erat in principio … ‘ is a tour de force in fugal counterpoint in which he keeps all eight vocal partis independent throughout and makes the instruments independent for many passages as well. It starts with an eight-bar fugue subject (and if you’re reminded strongly of the bass opening in Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’ that’s because this was a popular chaconne bass at the time) this fugal treatment means that the ‘bass’ migrates to the upper voices provides a highly-charged and satisfying end to the piece. Enjoy :-).


Text, Translation,  and Score: Dixit Dominus RV 594

Latin textEnglish translation
Dixit Dominus Domino meo: ‘Sede a dextris meis,The Lord said unto my Lord: ‘Sit thou at my right hand,
Donec ponam inimicos tuos, scabellum pedum tuorum.  Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
Virgam virtutis tuae emittet Dominus ex Sion:
dominare in medio inimicorum tuorum.
The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Sion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
Tecum principium in die virtutis tuae
in splendoribus sanctorum: ex utero
ante luciferum genui te.
Thine shall be the dominion in the day of thy power amid the brightness of the saints: from the womb, before the daystar have I begotten thee.
Iuravit Dominus, et non poenitebit eum:
Tu es sacerdos in aeternum secundum
ordinem Melchisedech.
The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent:
Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech.
Dominus a dextris tuis confregit in die
irae suae reges.
At thy right hand the Lord shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
Iudicabit in nationibus,
implebit ruinas:
conquassabit capita in terra multorum.  
He shall judge among the heathen,
he shall fill the places with dead bodies:
he shall wound the heads of many people on earth.  
De torrente in via bibet:
propterea exaltabit caput.’
He shall drink of the brook in the way:
therefore shall he lift up his head.’
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.Glory be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,
et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.
Score available from here: Dixit Dominus, RV 594 (Antonio Vivaldi) – ChoralWiki

6 thoughts on “Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Dixit Dominus RV 594

  1. I love RV 594!! I wish I could sing it!!! We’re doing the Magnificat right now, but it’s darker and gloomier than the Dixit Dominus. I love the Alessandrini version.
    take care…..

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