Glories from Vivaldi & Bach


Among the many authentic instrument recordings from Martin Pearlman and Boston Baroque, Bach: Magnificat/Vivaldi: Gloria stands out for the celebratory beauty of its music. Heard in these small forces interpretations, with a chorus of no more than 25, it’s hard to imagine that the music of both composers lay mostly unperformed for as long as it did.

The “Gloria” is normally heard as a single section within a larger mass, but the substantial length of Vivaldi’s Gloria in D Major suggests that it was written as a stand-alone piece. The opening “Gloria in Excelsis” is a joy. The soprano duet, “Laudamus Te” and soprano solo “Domine Deus” often excerpted for their lively beauty and graceful lyric lines. Soloists Tamara Matthews and Deanne Meek do them full justice. I’m a major fan of the short “Quoniam tu solus sanctus,” whose bumptious opening theme seems to sound for far longer than the movement’s 45 seconds. And who cares if Vivaldi store the closing fugue (other than the deceased composer), given what he did with it.

Bach’s Magnificat, also in D Major, is another gift to humankind. It’s opening choral “Magnificat,” later “Fecit potentiam,” and closing “Sicut era in principio” are unforgettable, and several of its movements, notably the soprano’s “Et exsultavit spiritus,” baritone’s “Quia fecit mihi magna,” and alto’s wonderful “Esurientes implevit bonis” are iconic in their beauty. It pairs perfectly with the Vivaldi, making for an ever uplifting, smile inducing program.