Dixit Dominus: Vivaldi, Mozart, Handel
Soloists: Marta Mathéu: soprano I, Hanna Bayodi-Hirt: soprano II, Anthony Roth Costanzo: countertenor, Makoto Sakurada: tenor, Furio Zanasi: baritone
La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Le Concert des Nations
Jordi Savall, conductor
Alia Vox, 2016
Handel’s Dixit Dominus belongs to his Italian period and dates to 1707. Even though the composer was Lutheran, he probably wrote Dixit to please his Catholic audience and patrons. Musically speaking, Handel’s Dixit reveals how fine his compositional technique was while he was still a young composer. Above all, it is remarkable for the sensitivity with which he was able to colour this quite plain text.
Vivaldi set to music Dixit Dominus thrice. The present recording features the one he wrote in 1717, one year after he was appointed maestro de’ concerti at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice. As for Mozart, his Dixit & Magnificat dates to 1774, while he was still living in Salzburg.
With such a programme, featuring one of the most popular sacred works since the Middle Ages and the music of three of the most admired composers, Jordi Savall and Le Concert de Nations have many chances to delight the listener. This recording is actually an amazing journey, which starts with Vivaldi’s glowing music, continues with Mozart’s inspired tunes and ends Handel’s solemn and magnificent celebration.
Dixit Dominus: the Performance
This is the recording of a live performance, made at the Auditori in Barcelona in June 2015, and the vibrancy of a live concert is immediately manifest from the very first note.
The performance of the three works is superb. First of all, the order in which they are performed is the most logical despite the chronology of composition. Beginning with Vivaldi’s transparency, then moving to Mozart’s devotion and ending with Handel’s pomp was an excellent choice in terms of coherence.
Furthermore, conductor Jordi Savall characterizes each Dixit unmistakably. Vivaldi’s is the most open and direct and, despite its elaborated music, this Dixit Dominus is remarkable for its freshness and lightness. Mozart’s Dixit et Magnificat is less brilliant, more thoughtful in its character but has equally sparkling colours. As for Handel, Savall performs his Dixit Dominus giving prominence both to its splendour and solemnity, but also to its contemplativeness.
The three Dixit Dominus are equally shimmering in terms of colours. Le Concert des Nations plays with skill and the bright sound of the strings is particularly charming. Overall, the orchestra is high-spirited and it is easy to guess its enthusiasm.
The voices of La Capella Reial de Catalunya and of the soloists are all smooth and fine, although not all the voices of the soloists seem large and ringing (I think in particular of soprano Marta Mathéu). While the chorus is glorious and vigorous, the soloists sing with elegance and insight. Their voices blend very well together. Among the finest pieces, I recommend to listen to the duet Tecum principium, sung by the two sopranos Marta Mathéu and Hanna Bayodi-Hirt, and Gloria Patri, featuring Anthony Roth Costanzo, Makoto Sakurada and Furio Zanasi. Both pieces are from Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus.