Joseph Haydn: Insanae et Vanae Curae
Malcolm Pearce: A Wreathèd Garland
Cecilia McDowall: Magnificat
W.A.Mozart: Exsultate Jubilate
Antonio Vivaldi: Gloria
Vivaldi’s lively distillation of the Italian musical style had a strong influence upon his contemporaries, even those as exalted as Bach and Handel. His setting of the Gloria provides a wonderful demonstration of this, ranging from the energetic repetitions of the opening, through lilting solo arias, to a rapt and expressive contemplation of the incarnation. This setting may have been intended for the all-female vocal and orchestral forces of the Pièta in 18th century Venice but it is ironic to note that, across the centuries, settings of liturgical texts have been almost entirely dominated by male composers—even that most feminine of lyrical outpourings, the Magnificat. Cecilia
McDowall’s setting of this text, using much the same format and scoring as the Vivaldi work, therefore brings a new perspective to Mary’s song, expressing apprehension, balletic agility, maternal compassion, and radiant joy.
Our two soloists will perform solo works of sacred, non-liturgical texts: Malcolm Pearce’s settings of Jacobean mataphysical poet, George Herbert’s lyrics (familiar to many in hymns) and Mozart’s popular showpiece Exsultate Jubilate, originally written for the castrato star of one of his early operas, but long since a firm favourite of sopranos and audiences alike. To begin the programme, Haydn’s motet Insanae et Vanae Curae provides a dramatic choral overture contrasting the turmoil of earthly life with the heavenly peace. Since its arrival in the English church repertoire in the 19th century this piece has been affectionally lampooned by generations of choristers as ‘Insane and vane curates’!