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August 9, 2005

Rediscovered Vivaldi Choral Music Played

Associated Press:

A choral work recently reattributed to Italian baroque master Antonio Vivaldi after centuries of being wrongly ascribed to one of his contemporaries received its first modern performance Tuesday. The manuscript was found in the Saxon State Library in Dresden, Germany, by Janice Stockigt, a musicologist at Melbourne University, who was in her final week of a five-year research project into sacred music played in the German royal court.

A snippet of the 35-minute piece, an 11-movement Dixit Dominis for choir and soloists, was played by an ensemble at the Melbourne University on Tuesday for the first time since its rediscovery as a work by Vivaldi, who is best known as the composer of "The Four Seasons." The piece had been attributed to Baldassarre Galuppi, one of Vivaldi's younger Venetian contemporaries. As Stockigt examined the music, she noticed distinctive patterns that led her to believe it had been wrongly catalogued.

"Essentially, the new work displays all the peculiarities of Vivaldi's general style, peculiarities that are very familiar to musicians, musicologists and music lovers," Stockigt said in a statement.

She took the manuscript to a leading Vivaldi expert, Professor Michael Talbot of the University of Liverpool, who agreed that it had been composed by Vivaldi, according to a statement released by Melbourne University. "It's the sort of thing that any researcher dreams about," Stockigt said. "It's just wonderful music. There's not a weak moment from the beginning to the end."

An Italian priest, Iseppo Baldan, was responsible for attributing the piece to Galuppi instead of Vivaldi, who died in 1741, Stockigt said. Baldan, who ran a music transcription house during the 1750s, had found himself unable to meet a commission for a piece of music by Galuppi from a Saxon court, and had solved his problem by taking Vivaldi's work and reattributing it to Galuppi, she said. Baldan had access to Vivaldi's music because the composer's nephews worked at the transcription house, she said.

The new work is not alone in having been inaccurately attributed to Galuppi. Stockigt's tip-off to Talbot has lead to the unearthing of two smaller works, also by Vivaldi, Melbourne University said. Plans were under way for the rest of Vivaldi's choral psalm to be performed next year in Dresden as part of the city's 800th anniversary celebrations, it said.

Posted by acapnews at August 9, 2005 11:41 PM