Conductor Eugene Lavery leads the Vox Seraphim Choir and Baroque Orchestra in a soul-stirring performance of Handel’s rarely heard Dixit Dominus and Vivaldi’s much-loved Gloria.
Dixit Dominus (“The Lord said”) is one of Handel’s earliest choral works, written in Rome in 1707 when he was just 22. The work, set to the text of Psalm 110, is written for five vocal soloists, five-part chorus, strings, and continuo. Dixit Dominus is divided into eight movements, and the text is vividly set, each using contrasts between movements as well as within each movement. The piece contains numerous examples of word painting, where the sound of the music imitates the imagery of the text.
Vivaldi’s Gloria was likely composed for the accomplished musicians at the Ospedale della Pietà girls orphanage in Venice where he served as music director. When the modern-day Vivaldi revival began early in the twentieth century, attention focused mainly on the composer’s concertos. But then, in the late 1920’s a large collection of Vivaldi’s vocal music was discovered in Turin, including the Gloria. Having received its twentieth-century premiere in 1930 Gloria has remained the most popular of all Vivaldi’s vocal works ever since.