The Great Venetian Mass - Vivaldi
Les Arts Florissants
A puzzling paradox: although Vivaldi devoted over 30 years to composing for the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, no complete musical setting of any liturgy by him has come down to us. By intercalating existing examples of his sacred music (such as the famous Gloria) and other works given a different text to suit their new liturgical function (Sanctus and Agnus Dei), the ensemble Les Arts Florissants now offers us a compelling reconstruction of a solemn Mass which the ‘Red-Haired Priest’ might have written... for just such an assembly of exceptional soloists!
“It is not always easy to reconstruct the context of a work from the past. In the case of Vivaldi’s famous Gloria, the actual religious service for which the piece was composed is an equation with multiple unknowns, only a few parts of which are known to us today. So we attempted to reconstruct this ordinary mass by taking Vivaldi’s own sacred music as a model and studying the liturgical practices of Venice at that time. This approach allows us to perform the entire mass and, for the first time, to hear Vivladi’s music in the context for which it was created.”
"Sherlock Holmes in the land of Vivaldi. By reconstructing, from rigorous research, a sort of "ideal mass" that never really existed, Paul Agnew has done a useful and fascinating work (...) The singers Sophie Karthaüser and Lucile Richardot, luminous, and the "Arts Flo" in great form led by Paul Agnew deserve long swings of the incense-box."
L'Obs, Philippe Cassard
« He flags Vivaldi’s rhetorical flourishes with myriad details of dynamic shading, shrewdly judged changes of pulse and tempos that feel just right, a strategy ideally suited to the eloquence and elan of Les Arts Florissants and backed by recorded sound both clear and warm ». BBC Music Magazine