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Giovanni Buonaventura VIVIANI (1638 - 1692): "Geistliche Motetten & Instrumentalmusik" (Sacred motets & instrumental music)

Maria Erlachera, Nele Gramßb, soprano; Markus Flaig, bass-baritonec
vita & anima
Dir: Peter Waldner

rec: June 2014, Innsbruck, Church of the Seminary of the dioceses Innsbruck and Feldkirch
Musikmuseum - CD 13023 (© 2016) (77'45")
Liner-notes: E/D; lyrics - translations: E/D
Cover & track-list
Parts op. 4

Ad triumphum tanti amorisabc [2]; Beatus virc; Confitebor tibi, Dominea [2]; Introduttione Id [1]; Laudate puerib [2]; Litaniae de Beata Maria Virgineabc [2]; Symphonia Id [1]

Sources: [1] Capricci armonici da chiesa e da camera, op. 4, 1678; [2] Salmi, Motetti e Litanie, op. 5, 1688

Gottfried von der Goltz (solod), Amandine Bernhardt, violin; Annekatrin Beller, cello; Andreas Arend, theorbo; Peter Waldner, organ

Soon after 1600 the Italian style disseminated across Europe. It was especially embraced in Germany and Austria. In the latter region the imperial court in Vienna was the main centre of music making. How much the Habsburg emperors were under the spell of Italian music is expressed in the fact that musicians from south of the Alps dominated the imperial chapel. Elsewhere in the region Italian musicians also found employment, for instance in Innsbruck. It is here that we meet Giovanni Buonaventura Viviani who worked there for several decades. That is the reason the Tiroler Landesmuseen pay attention to him in their series of recordings of music which was written or performed in Austria. However, the two collections from which the music on the programme is taken were printed in Venice (op. 4, 1678) and Bologna (op. 5, 1688) respectively. It seems likely that at that time Viviani worked in Italy.

Viviani was born in Florence in 1638; apparently nothing is known about his musical education, apart from the fact that he was instructed as a violinist. In this capacity he worked at the court in Innsbruck at least between 1656 and 1660. From 1672 to 1676 he was director of the court music in Innsbruck. The fact that during the opera season 1677/78 in Venice his arrangement of an opera by Cavalli was performed suggests that he had returned to Italy. He later worked in Rome where he cooperated with the likes of Arcangelo Corelli and Bernardo Pasquini, two of the leading musicians and composers of that time. He also performed some of his operas and oratorios in Naples, and in the last five years of his life he was maestro di cappella of Pistoia Cathedral.

Viviani's extant oeuvre is not very large. Five operas and four oratorios from his pen have survived. In addition he published some collections of vocal or instrumental music. His op. 6 is a collection of secular cantatas which show the influence of Antonio Cesti; therefore it is assumed that the latter was his teacher. The Salmi, motetti e litanie op. 5 is his only extant collection of sacred music; his op. 3 which was published in Augsburg in 1676 has been lost. The op. 5 includes liturgical pieces for one to three voices and bc, sometimes with two violins. As the title indicates Psalms take an important place in the collection. In addition we find motets on free texts for saints' days. A specimen of the latter is Ad triumphum tanti amoris for the Feast of St Francis.

These pieces are technically demanding. They include much coloratura and require a wide range; the vocal lines often move up and down through the various registers of the voice. The three singers have the necessary agility to perform these parts and deal with the coloratura quite impressively. They are also well aware of the rhetorical character of these pieces and pay much attention to the text. Beatus vir is not from the op. 5 but from the famous Düben-collection which is preserved at the University of Uppsala. It is an impressive example of text setting and Markus Flaig sings it perfectly. Several pieces include passages of a recitativic character; they are rightly singled out through a more free treatment of the rhythm.

In addition we hear some pieces from the Capricci armonici da chiesa e da camera op. 4 which are scored for violin and bc; it is notable that this collection includes two sonatas for trumpet and bc. Franz Gratl, in his liner-notes, suggests that Corelli was influenced by Viviani's instrumental works. "Viviani's most innovative and enduring achievement was the inclusion of free introductory movements onto the Italian sonata (...)." An example is the Introduttione prima which opens this disc. It begins with an introduttione which is followed by four dances: corrente, gagliarda, sarabanda and giga. The Symphonia prima shows that the sonata had not taken yet the form which we find in Corelli's oeuvre. It comprises four movements: the first and third have no time indications, the second and last are adagios. As one would expect Gottfried von der Goltz, one of the leaders of the Freiburger Barockorchester, delivers excellent performances of these two pieces.

Viviani is a little-known name from the 17th century, but the pieces recorded here are of high quality and there is every reason to be happy with their recording. One has to hope that more from his small oeuvre will make it to disc.

Johan van Veen (© 2017)

Relevant links:

Maria Erlacher
Markus Flaig
Nele Gramß
Peter Waldner

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