Vivaldi – Gloria
Nisi Dominum, Nulla in Mundo Pax Sincera
Julia Lezhneva, soprano
Franco Fagioli, countertenor
Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera
Diego Fasolis, conductor
Vivaldi’s Gloria: the Programme
Shortly after Julia Lezhneva and Franco Fagioli released two significant recordings of Baroque music (Porpora’s Germanico in Germania the former and the solo album Handel Arias the latter), it is not the time to find these two amazing singers together in the same recording, dedicated to Antonio Vivaldi’s sacred music.
Three works compose the present collection. The first is the Gloria, probably written to celebrate a Venetian victory over the Turks in 1716. It sank into oblivion until 1926, when it was rediscovered, and premiered in 1939 at the University of Siena. After Gloria, there is Nisi Dominum, composed around the same time of the former to be performed to Vespers for a Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Finally, there is one of Vivaldi’s twenty surviving solo motets, Nulla in mundo pax sincera, dating between 1713 and 1718.
In the first work, Lezhneva and Fagioli sing together (they have also an amazing duet) and then they perform one of the next two works each. All the works are conducted by Diego Fasolis, one of the best conductors of Baroque music who already worked with Fagioli and Lezhneva many times, as in the case of the recordings of Agostino Steffani’s Stabat Mater or of Vinci’s Artaserse with the former, and of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with the latter.
Vivaldi’s Gloria: the Performance
As the performers are all first rate, this album is really enjoyable. The works are not rarities, as they have been recorded several times. However, the way in which they are performed have something mesmerizing in it. Perhaps this is due to the shimmering colours of the fabulous ensemble I Barocchisti, which are sumptuously conducted by Fasolis.
Perhaps it depends on the dazzling technique of the two soloists, who are able to sing Vivaldi’s taxing works without effort and with extensive display of their agility and insight. Their voices are extremely different in timbral quality but blend very well together when they have to sing the duet from the Gloria. The harmonious contrast of that piece spread to the two works they sing later. Nisi Dominum, sung by Fagioli, is remarkable not only for the silvery and agile voice of the Argentine countertenor, but also for his delicate and yet accurate expressiveness, which characterizes with subtlety the slower parts, and – of course – for his flamboyant and pyrotechnical coloratura. Lezhneva sings Nulla in Mundo Pax Sincera and her burnished timbre is the most different thing from Fagioli’s crystalline voice, but her technical precision and agility is the same as that of her colleague.
Perhaps – and finally – the result is due to the amazing performance of the Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera. It (unfortunately) sings only the Gloria, but embellishes Vivaldi’s magnificent music with its skilful and ringing voices.
More reasonably, the outstanding result of this recording depends on all these elements together and in the end it is one of the best recordings of Vivaldi’s music in recent years.