Vivaldi wrote Juditha Triumpans or Juditha Triumphans devicta Holofernes barbarie to give its full title in 1716 for the girls of the Ospedele della Pietà. It's the only one of his oratorios to survive and it's a further demonstration that Vivaldi had full confidence not only in the soloists, and the chorus, but also in the orchestra for whom he wrote glorious music that could only be played by a group of talented and dedicated virtuosi. The score includes parts for recorders, oboes, chalumeaux, trumpets, mandolin, theorboes, viola d’amore and splendid writing for solo strings and continuo.
Venice being Venice spectacle, religion, and politics were closely interwined and this oratorio is no exception the "Sacred military oratorio" is an allegory – a very thinly veiled allegory of the contemporary politico-military tensions in the Adriatic that existed at the time it was composed. What Vivaldi was depicting in concentrated and simplified form was the struggle between Venice and her possessions – Juditha, and the Ottoman Empire – Holofernes. This political aspect accounts for its defiant and assertive tone to say nothing of how heavily it's larded with self-justification. His audience lapped it up but I have to admit it's not my favourite amongs his works. it's very uneven, in fact it's rather like the little girl with the little curl, when it's good it's very very good and when it's bad its, well not horrid, but very very wooden. The major weakness is the chorus which is very under-developed and the arias are very uneven few of them reach the heights of musicality of Veni, veni me Sequere fida but in the face of the splendidly colourful and dramatic orchestral accompaniment that never fails to delight and impress perhaps that hardly matters. Enjoy :-).
Click here to listen to the music and read the rest of the posting ...