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Les Orphelines de Venise features pieces which Vivaldi wrote for the musically trained women of the Venetian orphanage of the Pietà. The disc’s singularity, though, lies in its attempt to address the vexed question of the disposition and pitch of vocal parts among an all-female establishment. Much ink has been spilt over the topic during the past half century or so and various alternatives proposed. Geoffroy Jourdain, director of Les Cris de Paris, has adopted what seems a practical solution for female voices alone with a soprano line, an alto line, a tenor part sung by girls with a strong bottom range which they are alleged to have possessed, and a bass part sung by altos an octave above written pitch. These and other related matters are lucidly discussed in Jourdain’s accompanying booklet essay.

The imaginary Messa recorded here consists of a Kyrie (RV587), the celebrated Gloria (RV589), a Credo (RV591), a Magnificat (RV610a), the Sinfonia ‘al Santo Sepolcro’ (RV169) and the Concerto Madrigalesco (RV129). A leitmotif is provided by a musical passage consisting of a poignant chordal sequence with dissonant suspensions which occur in the Kyrie, the Credo, the Magnificat and the concerto.

These vibrant performances are commendably responsive to the literary texts and musically stylish. The voices, 19 in all, provide an homogeneous choral texture as well as the solo contributions while a comparably sized instrumental colloquium offers sympathetic support. A revelation.

Nicholas Anderson Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2017 - ©Rhinegold Publishing