“The Return of Angels” is billed as a collection of Vivaldi’s sacred music arranged in an attractive program. The Ensemble Caprice under Matthias Maute perform these works with a lightness and transparency that make for an enjoyable listening experience.
The disc starts with Juditha triumphans, one of Vivaldi’s four surviving oratorios. Originally, this music was performed by girls of the orphanage where he directed the music program. Ensemble Caprice also uses an exclusively female cast, giving the drama a serene, otherworldly feel. By cutting out the long stretches of secco recitative, the Ensemble pares this large work down to a compact and appealing suite.
The motet O qui coeli terraeque serenitas (RV 631) is a study in contrasts, both in vocal style and orchestral writing. Soprano Gabriele Hierdeis floats effortlessly above the busy ensemble, turning in an appealing performance.
In addition to some psalms and the Et in terra pax from the “Gloria” (RV 588), there are also some excerpts from the oratorio Gesu al cavario by Vivaldi’s colleague in Dresden, Jan Dismas Zelenka. Zelenka’s music compares favorably to Vivaldi’s – without looking at the program notes, the casual listener might not hear the difference.
Also included is a Vivaldi concerto for two recorders (RV 566) and another for Trumpet and Oboe (RV563). Both works are ably played by the Ensemble Caprice, and provide a nice contrast to the vocal selections.
Vivaldi: Return of the Angels
Ensemble Caprice; Matthias Maute, conductor