Most Baroque composers tried their hand at setting Psalm 109, including the two masters of vocal music: Handel and Vivaldi. This release couples Handel’s only Dixit Dominus with the last of Vivaldi’s three settings, which until 2005 had been mistakenly attributed to Galuppi. Between them, as a sort of solo soprano palate cleanser, is one of Vivaldi’s spectacular motets, In furore iustissimae irae. His Dixit Dominus, by contrast, is a fairly restrained setting, gently complementing the declamatory drama and whirling strings of its Handelian counterpart. Under the direction of David Bates, La Nuova Musica – a relatively new ensemble on the early music scene – renders these works with vitality and precision.
Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus is delivered with disarming simplicity, Handel’s with crisp Latin diction and bright, bracing strings. Soprano Lucy Crowe ascends the florid heights of the Vivaldi motet with silvery voice and hair-raising fearlessness and there are outstanding solos from members of the choir: Helen- Jane Howells is ravishing in the Vivaldi – her “Virgam virtutis tuae” is a pearly delight – while countertenor Christopher Lowrey sings with focused beauty.
With such depth of talent in the ensemble, it’s little wonder that they’ve produced such a satisfying addition to the catalogue.