This magnificent setting of Psalm 110 (Vulgate 109) was only rediscovered as a set of locally copied separate parts in the late 1960s in the National Library in Prague. It was almost certainly composed for the Pietà some time before 1717 and I think it very likely that it was amongst the works taken back to Bohemia by Balthasar Knapp on behalf of his master Count Kinsky. Dixit Dominus is the first of the five Psalms sung at Vespers on Sundays or feast days which is why there are so many settings of it and why those settings tend to be a bit extravagant. The opening chorus’ pointillism is accentuated by some very incisive rythmic writing and word-painting. The second movement as you might expect from Vivaldi is a slow chorus in B minor that at its climax has some of the most affecting harmonies Vivaldi ever wrote. The third and fourth movements are both very lively and feature the novel instrumentation that’s the hallmark of much that he wrote for the Pietà. The fifth movement (Juravit Dominus …) is somewhat severe but nonetheless very effective – the way in which the alto acts as a cantor and the other three voices as a responding chorus is really quite remarkable. This is followed by the first soprano singing solo of how the Lord sitting at the Psalmist’s right hand will strike his enemies down, which in turn leads to an invocation of the last trumpet in the ‘Judicabit‘. This gives way to an appropriately choppy ‘implebit ruinas‘ followed by a marvellously lyrical alto solo that’s complemented by the unison violins musical portrayal of lapping a brook’s waters. The doxology starts with a choral terzet for alto, tenor and bass, that always reminds me of bel canto – it’s a great example of Vivaldi borrowing and improving another composer’s work in this case it’s a paraphrase of the opening section of Lotti’s Inganni dell’ umanità, this terzet leads to the ‘Sicut era …‘ which is an abridged restatement of the work’s opening movement. The work closes with a triumphant – and triumphalist, fugue which is an expansives rescoring of the Laudate pueri Dominum, RVAnh.29, dating from 1690. Enjoy :-)
Vivaldi Dixit Dominus RV 595. Lynne Dawson, soprano, James Bowman, contratenore, John Elwes, tenore, Steven Varcoe, baritono. La Maîtrise Boréale ,Chef de choeur, Bernard Dewagtére, La grande écurie et la chambre du roy, Jean-Claude Malgoire, conductor.Guido Reni, paintings.
Text, & Translation: Dixit Dominus RV 595
|Latin text||English 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
|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, |
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.