Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741): Salve regina RV616

vivaldi150x150vignetteIn some ways this setting of the Salve is very similar to Vivaldi’s G minor setting (RV618). Both settings are for an alto soloist, Vivaldi divided his strings between two cori and made use of woodwind obbligato instruments in each, and both have a a six-movement structure. So much for the similarities – the differences are quite as important. The most important of these differences is that the vocal part in this setting is both higher and far more flamboyant than that of the G minor setting.

It dates from sometime around 1730 and given that Vivaldi refers to  ‘la cantante’ in the instructions he must have composed for performance in the Ospedale della Pietà although quite why he would have done so at a time when Giovanni Porta was the Pietà’s  maestro di coro is something of a mystery.

Structurally it follows a typically symmetrical pattern and you can hear how throughout the piece Vivaldi carefully chose key words in the text as prompts for musically illustrative effects. For example he uses the word ‘clamamus’ (we cry out) in the secrond movement to creat a mood of breathless urgency while in the third he portrays the word ‘suspiramus’ (we sigh) with frequent short rests representing pausing to inhale. But the best wine is left til last my favourite example of word-painting occurs right at the end, the way in which Vivaldi heightens the expression of adoration for the Virgin at the ‘O’ exclamations – ‘O clemens, o pia, o dulcis’ is very special.



Video Source: Vivaldi – Salve Regina (RV 616) – Gerard Lesne, Il Seminario Musicale Published on 2 Jan 2013 by Lord Sebastian Flyte

Text & Translation: Salve Regina

LatinModern English TranslationTraditional English Translation
Salve regina, mater misericordiae,Hail, O queen, mother of mercy,Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
vita, dulcedo et spes nostra salve.our life, sweetness and hope, hail.our life, our sweetness and our hope.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae,To thee do we sigh, daughter of Eve,To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
ad te suspiramus gementes et flentesmourning and weepingto thee do we send up our sighs,
in hac lacrimarum this vale of tears.mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Eia ergo advocata nostraO you our advocate,Turn then, most gracious advocate,
illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.turn on us thy merciful eyes.thine eyes of mercy toward us;
Et Iesum benedictum fructum ventris tuiAnd after this our exile show unto us Jesus,And after this our exile, show unto us
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.the blessed fruit of thy womb.the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis virgo Maria.O merciful, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary.O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

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