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culture: review; Cappella Novocastriensis at King's Hall, Newcastle University.

Byline: Thomas Hall

THE Saxon State Library in Dresden has proved a fruitful source of misplaced Vivaldi compositions over the past 20 years.

The latest find came in 2005 when an Australian musicologist noticed anomalies in a manuscript of a Dixit Dominus setting (Psalm 109) that raised serious questions over its attribution to Venetian composer Baldassare Galuppi.

The story goes that some time in the 1750s or 60s the Catholic court at Dresden acquired some new sacred music from Venice's best-known copyists, run by Iseppo Baldan.

Vivaldi had been dead since 1741, Galuppi was the big name in Venetian music and so, not for the only time, Galuppi's name appeared on someone else's work.

Duly authenticated as the work of Vivaldi, the Dixit Dominus RV 807 was getting its first UK performance here by Cappella Novocastriensis and the period instrument orchestra Newcastle Baroque as part of the current Newcastle Early Music Festival.

Regarded by those who authenticated it as the finest of the composer's sacred works, it was hard to disagree - particularly with Vivaldi scholar Eric Cross conducting.

Alternating choruses and vocal solos and duets over 11 movements, Vivaldi switched from traditional church polyphony to florid operatic aria with ease.

The choir sounded full-voiced and precise with the closing fugue coming with tremendous cumulative force.

Soprano Julia Kogan maintained superb evenness of tone while Heather Jill Burns excelled in the alto aria De torrente. The orchestra, sensitive to Vivaldi's word painting, produced gently rippling string figurations.

Tenors Martin Hindmarsh and Austin Gunn seized their moments in solos and the duet with impressive style.

It topped an all-Vivaldi programme that had begun with the overture to the opera Griselda.

But far from being granted a gentle warm-up to the grand finale, the choir and soloists set the standards high from the off with a medley of established Vivaldi works.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 11, 2008
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