Tuesday, March 08, 2005

"In furore" - Antonio Vivaldi

I’m reviewing “In furore” a wonderful Baroque motet by Vivaldi for coloratura soprano, strings, and continuo. The piece is a true test of virtuosity for the voice: The many cadenzas and long passages require agility and breath support. I first overheard this piece while Linden was studying for a Vocal Literature test. “In furore” is part of the standard Baroque repertoire. I am looking at the first movement, the Allegro, in particular as it is the most famous – “In furore iustissimae irae.” This recording is sung by Magda Kalmar.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find too much about the text to the motet. I only know that the motet evokes emotions of fear of God’s wrath, despair, and torment, as well as pleading for God’s mercy. A latin dictionary revealed that “furore” means fury, while “iustissimae irae” brings up the terms “justice” and “wrath.” The orchestral part certainly conveys a sense of turmoil and grandeur. There are a lot of monophonic moments where the strings and soprano are in unison – it creates a powerful atmosphere.

The aria is written in Da Capo form. There is a lengthy string introduction that sets the tone – a friend told me that it would sound great on electric guitar! The soprano enters on a very florid passage – in the A section she hardly sings one note per syllable. On closer examination, the aria appears to be in composite ternary! The A section clearly has a simple binary form – there are smaller A and B sections, the B section being a development of the opening parallel period.

The mood suddenly shifts to a more somber tone when we come to the B section. The passages are less florid, and the volume much more pianissimo. This B section is very short. We soon return to the turbulence of the A section, exactly as it was the first time.


Martin Buber said...

I'm obsessed with In Furore just so you know

Rhetoric said...

Thank you for your vivid musical description! It heightens my enjoyment of the artistry of this piece.

I'm really impressed with two versions:

1) Sandrine Piau's version is vocally perfect and orchestrally precise. With Piau's haunting voice I imagine an angel coming out of the clouds to warn us of God's righteous anger, gently pleading at times.

2) The version by Ensemble Caprice on an album called "Gloria! Vivladi's Angels" (see emusic website). The latter has more of a royal majesty in the voice, and such a full, low and furious orchestra that truly warns of the coming doom.