Outside a small number of recognized categories, such as the arrangement of a work for different forces or its reissue in a revised and improved form, orthodoxy demands that material used in one work should not reappear overtly in another. There is in addition a milder, but nevertheless genuine, disapproval of repeating a single compositional formula too exactly. The general principle of non-repetition relies on one simple condition, normally satisfied since the beginning of the nineteenth century but non- existent or only inchoate earlier. Such a situation has come about only because publication of every work within this oeuvre has become the norm and is no longer a privilege reserved for only a portion of it or favouring certain genres over others. Of course, self-borrowing has another, quite separate dimension: as a labour-saving device sparing the composer time and effort. But this negative aspect does not detract from the positive function of winning new life for tried and tested musical material, especially if — as occurs on most occasions in Bach and Handel and often also in Vivaldi — this material undergoes improvement on its re-employment.
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Outside a small number of recognized categories, such as the arrangement of a work for different forces or its reissue in a revised and improved form, orthodoxy demands that material used in one work should not reappear overtly in another.
There is in addition a milder, but nevertheless genuine, disapproval of repeating a single compositional formula too exactly. The general principle of non-repetition relies on one simple condition, normally satisfied since the beginning of the nineteenth century but non- existent or only inchoate earlier. Such a situation has come about only because publication of every work within this oeuvre has become the norm and is no longer a privilege reserved for only a portion of it or favouring certain genres over others.
Of course, self-borrowing has another, quite separate dimension: as a labour-saving device sparing the composer time and effort.
But this negative aspect does not detract from the positive function of winning new life for tried and tested musical material, especially if — as occurs on most occasions in Bach and Handel and often also in Vivaldi — this material undergoes improvement on its re-employment. What is true in relation to recycled musical material is equally true in the case of recycled compositional formulae. Indeed, one striking aspect of his compositional methods is how often the functional context of a favourite musical idea changes when it passes from one work to another.
Thus an idea forming the closing phrase of a ritornello in a finale RV can be just as happy leading off the opening phrase of a first- movement ritornello RV However, there is one musical domain cultivated by Vivaldi in which, to pursue the metaphor, the identity of the house is on occasion even more strongly marked than the identity of the bricks: his sacred vocal music. This genre — particularly where unchanging liturgical texts are concerned — is circumscribed unlike any other by considerations of duration, tradition, propriety and all the accumulated habits of musical depiction.
The composer never starts with a perfectly blank sheet but works with a series of templates that of course do not eliminate choice altogether but definitely limit and channel it. Some cappelle could call on solo singers who doubled as operatic virtuosi; others could not. In view of these objective disparities, the countervailing trend towards uniformity is quite remarkable. Fenlon and T. Carter, Oxford, Clarendon Press, , In time, however, they inevitably became due for replacement for a variety of possible reasons.
Indispensable performers might leave the ensemble; the evolution of musical style might render the piece unfashionable;3 failure to provide freshly composed music might suggest a lack of respect for significant events in the life of a church, such as its annual patronal festival; the resident composer might be anxious to give evidence of his continued vitality; a patron of that church might wish to donate specially commissioned music to it.
But then a question arose: how different should the new work be from the old? By the end of the eighteenth century the balance had swung from an emphasis on sameness to an approach prioritizing difference. This holds true to a surprising extent for those on a common text written successively for different institutions. That both settings include a separately fashioned reworking of a Cum Sancto Spiritu movement from a Gloria of by G.
Ruggieri is naturally emblematic of their similarity but does not begin to convey the full extent of their convergence in respects beyond the merely thematic. Here, it is the general layout, plus a few details of instrumentation, that provides the main point of convergence. We have here clear evidence of a single vision sustained over almost three decades. It will help at this point to characterize each of the three works briefly.
Edizione e cronologia critica delle opere, eds. Fanna and G. Morelli, Florence, Olschki, , pp. Perhaps this unusual SSATB scoring arose as a direct result of the borrowing of the final movement where, on account of the fugal texture, no reduction from five to four voices would have been feasible , which forced the composer, for the sake of balance, to lay out at least one further choral movement identically.
The solo voices, which are introduced, with one exception,15 in separate movements and thus do not interact closely with the choir, comprise two sopranos, alto, tenor and bass.
There exists, indeed, a record of a Dixit Dominus that Vivaldi was invited to supply in for the patronal festival of the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna, although it appears that he did not fulfil the request.
The brilliance of its opening movement, reprised in severely abridged form as the penultimate movement, the superb pacing and resourceful harmony of its second movement which greatly resembles in mood and conception the equivalently situated Et in terra pax movements of both Gloria settings and the inventiveness of its fourth movement Tecum principium , which pits two sopranos against two obbligato cellos, place it among the more memorable sacred vocal works of the first period.
In practice, ripieno oboe parts doubling violin parts could have been used in other movements. The corresponding volume in the Nuova edizione critica, edited by Paul Everett, appeared from Ricordi, Milan, in As Paul Everett states in the Critical Notes to the work in the new collected edition, bibliographical evidence such as paper type and rastrography and connections to other works place it somewhere in the late s or early s.
In practically all respects the two cori in RV mirror one another. The solo voices, this time appearing without any exception in independent movements, are two sopranos, tenor and bass. The theory of a Roman connection, although not disproved, is now largely discounted for lack or corroboration.
The alternating emphasis on counterpoint and virtuosity noted for RV is maintained in RV Indeed, if one strips away the added layer of complexity sometimes, it is true, more apparent than real represented by the use by RV of two cori, RV is revealed, in the relevant parts of the score, as the more contrapuntal and the more brilliant setting alike. RV and RV Anh. Perhaps RV and RV are contemporary and even belong to the same psalm cycle.
The choice of D major tonality is typical for the Dixit Dominus Ps. The formula of one movement per verse is observed strictly in each setting, except that RV and RV , as will shortly be explained, assign two separate movements to the second verse of the Doxology. Neither approach is any longer fashionable, but I am convinced that exploration of the subthematic, in addition to the thematic, provides many clues to understanding why music works or fails to work.
Recent recorded performances of all three settings have each time resulted in a duration of between 23 and 24 minutes. To locate the reprise at this point is liturgically appropriate, since it draws attention to the start of a distinct textual component, the Doxology, but it also has the inevitable consequence that the first verse of the Doxology, Gloria Patri, is delivered chorally, as a collective praise-song to the Holy Trinity, rather than by one or more solo voices in the manner of a prayer.
There are clear correspondences in the tonal architecture scoring of the movements. In all three cases, D major is chosen as the key in which vv. These are all choruses with additional solo participation in Movement 7 in RV and RV employing wind as well as strings.
B minor is the universal choice for v. Less predictably, E minor is selected each time for v. The settings concur in making Movement V wholly or partly choral and assigning the remaining movements to a balanced assortment of solo voices, paired voices or in RV a trio of voices.
In each version Virgam virtutis and De torrente are for solo voice, and in RV and RV Tecum principium is set for paired equal voices Dominus a dextris tuis, however, is set variously as a solo and a duo. One must not exaggerate the significance of these commonalities, some of which arise from architectural necessities such as beginning and ending with the full ensemble in the home key or from cues in the biblical text, and therefore frequently occur also in settings by other composers.
The keywords selected tend to be the same, and the ways in which they are highlighted are very similar. Take for example the opening movement set to v. In RV Vivaldi does this as well cf. This imaginative touch lives on in both RV and RV , where it gains in prominence by being assigned to single voices separately in RV or paired voices RV Example 1, which gives the opening bars of the first vocal section of each setting omitting the words and the string parts other than continuo illustrates the similarity of motion and affetto.
Note, incidentally, how the thematic material used in RV is in effect a composite of that in RV and RV , taking from the first the descending broken chord and from the second the ascending and descending scale-figures. In the fifth movement of RV , which, unlike its earlier counterparts, is structured as a full-blown fugue over an independent, rhythmically absolutely regular instrumental bass a precedent can be found in the last movement of RV , Domine ad adjuvandum me , this ponderousness, deliberately made reminiscent of plainsong recitation, is built into the subject itself see Example 6, later.
Even though the melodic contour of the first vocal phrase in RV and RV is different, their rhythm is identical, as Example 2 shows. The seventh verse of the psalm presents a not insignificant difficulty to any composer setting it. Here it is, in parallel Latin and English versions: Judicabit in nationibus, implebit He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill ruinas: the places with dead bodies; conquassabit capita in terra multorum.
He shall strike through the head in many countries. Nevertheless, most composers, 32 This observation is relevant to the later discussion of submotivic shapes. Not so Vivaldi in RV The parallelism between the three settings of the eighth verse, De torrente in via bibet, is quite extraordinary.
Besides the identity of key, E minor, and the choice of a slow tempo, we find in all three cases that the rippling of the brook is conveyed by gentle oscillation between the dominant V and submediant VI scale degrees, with transposition of the figure at appropriate points to other keys and scale degrees. Example 3 gives the opening of the vocal line in all three settings. Vivaldi shows more clearly here than anywhere else in these settings how his approach to translating a particular verse into music can be absolutely unchanging: a single vision becomes refracted in different ways but maintains its essential identity.
We now arrive at the Doxology. RV and RV style its first verse, the Gloria Patri, as, respectively, a chamber terzetto the Lotti paraphrase and a chamber duet with independent orchestral accompaniment.
The Gloria Patri of RV and the Sicut erat in principio movements of RV and RV are, as already explained, abridged and retexted paraphrases of the opening movement. It is interesting to note here and also in some parallel instances in other Vivaldi works, such as the Gloria, RV how severe the pruning is. The result, certainly deliberate, is to deprive this movement of autonomy and turn it into a sonorous prelude to the extended fugue that follows.
We saw earlier that its use of two sopranos may have influenced the scoring of the entire work. Moreover, its subthematic shapes conform very closely as do those of the earlier Gloria Patri to those prominent in the wholly original portions of the work.
There is the insistence on presenting the subject in both major and minor modes in order to exploit the affective contrast. There is the presence of a long pedal-note towards the end, over which snippets of the subject parade in both normal and inverted form.
There is the clear division into separate sections, where the joins are emphasized rather than concealed. All these features recur in the final movement of RV , where Vivaldi departs from his more usual antiphonal treatment of the two cori in order to combine the voices with maximum freedom in a dense polyphonic web.
By fashioning the subject and multiple countersubjects from the simplest of materials ultimately: the scale and the triad , he is able to achieve great plasticity, which facilitates his task of combining thematic elements and makes his fugue seem even cleverer than it actually is. But the closing fugue of RV places even this movement in the shade. Yet it builds on the foundations of its counterpart in RV Its principal subject, as in the latter, opens with a falling tetrachord — only here chromaticized forming a passus duriusculus , as in the equivalent movement of the respond Domine ad adjuvandum me, RV , also a latish work.
There is a similar emphasis on a central block of entries in related minor keys. The closest parallel occurs in the long dominant pedal before the close, during which in both RV bars and RV bars the tetrachordal opening of the subject is presented in diminution and also inversion.
In passing, one may note a very interesting, unorthodox feature about the form of the answer to the main fugue subject of the closing movement of RV This licence is wholly successful in its effect — and is so unobtrusive that listeners, and perhaps even performers, may not even be aware of it.
The three openings of the De torrente movement, shown in Example 3, stand in the borderland between the two. There are six subthematic shapes that occur with especial frequency and in especially prominent positions in the three Dixit Dominus settings — and with greatest density in the two later ones RV and RV These are: 1.
The scale degrees specified are those of the most typical instances; the same shapes may also occur on other scale degrees within the same key, as well as in inverted form.
To defend and make viable the concept of subthematic shapes as unifying agents, one has first to be certain that these elements occur with a frequency and a prominence well in excess of the norm.
The question then becomes not whether the shapes occur or not they are almost guaranteed to occur but whether they saturate the music and thereby dominate it. By its nature, this is something decided by impression rather than by computation, but the impossibility of accurate scientific measurement does not mean that the factor is inherently invalid.
Dixit Dominus (Vivaldi)
The final section of this Dixit Dominus, especially, is of a piece with the finale of the Gloria, RV , with its use of tonally spacious polyphony to create a large-scale dramatic flourish. Irish-Canadian conductor Kevin Mallon leads a small but assertive choir, orchestra, and soloists in a crisp performance recorded in a Toronto church. This recording is available in an SACD version, but even the regular release features engineering Naxos can justifiably boast about. Text intelligibility is excellent throughout, which is a bonus in the case of Nulla in mundo pax sincera, RV Sandwiched between the two larger works, this cantata for soprano solo, strings, and continuo has an unusual devotional text that brought forth some especially florid operatic writing from Vivaldi.
Dixit Dominus, RV 595 (Antonio Vivaldi)