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Vivaldi’s sacred motet “In turbato mare” RV 627, featuring soprano Dominique Labelle and performed in its entirety. Live, high definition video from the Voices of Music “Stabat Mater” concert, March 2012.
Antonio Vivaldi is known primarily as a composer of concertos, but in his own time he was an opera impresario, hastily dashing off concertos for cash (sometimes in coach trips from one production to another) to fund his lavish productions. For special occasions, or special patrons–such as the orchestra in Dresden–Vivaldi brought the full force of his compositional abilities to the table, and crafted masterpieces of counterpoint, in stark contrast to many of his hastily composed works. Vivaldi’s sacred works are nearly as compelling as his best concertos, and the motet “In turbato mare irato” combines typical operatic melismas, recitatives and Da Capo arias, as well as a challenging vocal range of two octaves. Composers of the baroque period (especially Handel) often used a number of compositional tricks to speed the process of churning out music, such as recycling large pieces of thematic material, or piling all of the instruments onto one part to avoid the complexity of full counterpoint. In turbato, in contrast, is composed with a four-part harmony throughout. The fully-allegorical text can be read as an odyssey towards spiritual or intellectual light, but the verses are suffused with secular sensuality, paralleling the Italian art and religious architecture of the same period.
The original score contains a brief recit with continuo, we have turned this into an accompagnato piece in which the strings play the harmonies.
In turbato mare irato
naufragatur alma pax.
Cito splende, ah splende, o cara,
in procella tam amara,
suspirata coeli fax.
Splende serena, o lux amata,
nam mersa in mille poenis
languet anima mea.
Stricta mille catenis
in pelago voraci
iam submersa spirat,
sed contemplando te laeta respirat.
et non timebo
tam cara face
gaudendo in pace,
si contemplabor vos,
In the turbulence of the angry sea
sweet peace is shipwrecked.
Shine quickly, ah shine, dear one,
beacon of heaven,
I look for you with
sighs in the bitter storm!
Shine serene, beloved light,
drowned in a thousand pains
my soul languishes
bound in a thousand chains
in the devouring sea,
now sinking, and drowning but looking
at you I joyfully take another breath
Shine on, beautiful
and I shall not fear
the horrors of death,
At that beloved sight
I rejoice in peace
when I gaze at you,
dear rays of light.
The musicians and their instruments (left to right)
Katherine Kyme, baroque violin by Johann Gottlob Pfretzichner, Mittenwald, 1791
Sara Usher, baroque violin by Desiderio Quercetani, Parma, Italy, 2001
Elizabeth Blumenstock, baroque violin by Andrea Guarneri, Cremona, 1660
(coutesy Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra trust)
Maxine Nemerovski, baroque violin by Timothy Johnson, Indiana, 1999 (after Stradivarius)
Lisa Grodin, baroque viola by Mathias Eberl, Salzburg, Austria, 1680
William Skeen, five string baroque cello, Anonymous, Italy, c1680
Farley Pearce, violone by George Steppani, Manchester, 1985, after Amati, 1560
David Tayler, archlute by Andreas von Holst, Munich, 2011, after 18th c. originals
Hanneke van Proosdij, baroque organ by Winold van der Putten, Finsterwolde,
Netherlands, 2004, after early 18th-century northern German instruments
And of course, Dominique Labelle!
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