- Magnificat, for 2 vocal soloists, chorus, strings & continuo in G minor (Venice Version), RV 611
- Salve Regina, antiphon for voice, violin, strings & continuo in F major, RV 617
- Concerto madrigalesco, for strings & continuo in D minor, RV 129
- Nisi Dominus (Psalm 126), for voice, viola d'amore, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 608
- Kyrie, for double vocal soloists, double chorus, double strings & continuo, strings & continuo in G minor, RV 587
- In furore giustissimae irae, solo motet for voice, strings & continuo in C minor, RV 626
Is it possible to speak of a Canadian style in Baroque music? Groups like Toronto's Aradia Ensemble offer an alternative to the fiery performances of the Italians, the smoothness of the northern Europeans, or the bigger-is-better traditional performances the world over. And they put bodies in the seats in Toronto and Montreal. Consider the quartet of soprano and mezzo-soprano soloists in this disc of Vivaldi pieces with choruses and arias. To listeners hooked on the Italians, soprano Carla Huhtanen's take on the first movement of the motet "In furore iustissimae irae," where Vivaldi's sacred style approaches purely operatic dimensions, may seem underpowered. Yet the aria is beautifully shaped. That motet may have been written for a Roman castrato, which would partly explain its thick vocal difficulties, but some of the other pieces were written for Vivaldi's chorus at the Ospedale della Pietà, the home for illegitimate girls where he worked as maestro di cappella for much of his life. The arias in the "Nisi Dominus, RV 608," thought to be for the Ospedale, work well in the modest dimensions given them here. The chorus of Irish-Canadian conductor Kevin Mallon's Aradia Ensemble likewise won't knock you out, but will impress you with the musical intelligence of the whole. Sample the "deposuit potentes" passage in the "Fecit potentiam" movement of the "Magnificat, RV 611" (a later version of the "Magnficat, RV 610," with added arias). This unison passage is routinely belted out by amateur choirs and European groups alike, but Mallon keeps the singers in check; the rhythm is kept rock steady, and the tone is subdued. Thus the choir conveys the implacability of a God who "hath put down the mighty from their seat." Throughout, Mallon seems to define a specifically sacred style for Vivaldi, in contrast to the Italian position that opera lay behind it all. There are passages where you wish for more support in low notes, from the choir and soloists alike, and the sound is pedestrian. But the X factor is that all four pieces make sense as wholes. This performance shows the continuing evolution of Canadian Baroque-oriented musicians and singers.