Vivaldi Gloria and other works

Sunday, December 3, 2023, 7:30 p.m.

Rossini:  Overture to "Il Signor Bruschino"
Vivaldi:  "Gloria" for chorus, soloists, and orchestra
John Rutter:  "Magnificat" (1990) for chorus, soloists, and orchestra

    Renee Burkett, soprano
    Lydia Brown, mezzo-soprano
    Brentwood Palisades Chorale
    Palisades Symphony Orchestra
    Susan S. Rosenstein and Joel Lish, conductors

Join us as we perform two highly popular choral works, one of them from our own time.  We perform with our sister organization, the Brentwood Palisades Chorale. The two main choral works will be led by Susan S. Rosenstein, the Chorale's director. Music director Joel Lish will lead off with a lively overture.

Palisades Methodist Church
801 Via de la Paz
Pacific Palisades,  California 90272


Notes on the program

The Rossini overture opens the one-act comic opera "Il signor Bruschino, ossia Il figlio per azzardo," meaning "Signor Bruschino, or The Accidental Son", which premiered in Venice in 1813. The overture includes an unusual solo passage for the second violins: they must tap the wood of their bows against their music stands. Perhaps some of these players will be using their second-best bow ...

The Vivaldi "Gloria" (1713) is a widely-sung work whose text is a bit unusual, consisting solely of the Gloria portion of the traditional Latin mass. Since Vivaldi didn't need to set the other sections (Kyrie, Credo, Sanctus, and so on), he could devote more attention to each of the lines of the Gloria text.

This text is an anonymous poem, written in Greek during the early period of Christianity. The poem starts with words from the Biblical Book of Luke, proclaimed by angels at the first Christmas: "Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will," and it continues in similar vein. Vivaldi's musical setting, like almost all settings of the "Gloria" text performed today, uses standard Latin translation. 

It is likely that the first performers of the "Gloria" consisted of an all-girl ensemble, at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, where Vivaldi was music director for a group of orphans who were being provided with musical training. One perhaps might wonder how well the girls could cover the tenor and bass parts, but the electrifying recorded performance of this work by the San Francisco Girls Chorus proves that men are not really necessary to sing it well (we employ them anyway).

The Latin text of the "Magnificat" is also taken from the Book of Luke, a couple of pages earlier, where it portrays the Virgin Mary's exultant praise of God ("My soul doth magnify the Lord") as she approaches the time to give birth to Jesus. The text follows the practice of the Hebrew Psalms in being arranged in pairs of parallel or opposing phrases ("He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, / and lifted up the lowly"). This pairwise arrangement has often been a structural guide for classical composers who have set this text, including Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Bach, Bruckner, Rachmaninoff, and of course John Rutter.

The Los Angeles Times reviewed the West Coast premiere of Rutter's Magnificat (1990) with flamboyant hostility: "The piece is a virtual encyclopedia of musical clichés, a long-winded, tamely tonal, predictable exercise in glitzy populism." The Times reviewer went on to suggest that the music was sourced in part from Marlboro cigarette commercials. Good grief! Can it be that bad? Are we morons even to think of performing it? We invite you to listen with open ears and form your own opinion.