As part of the Christmas concert on 6 December 2022, Vivaldi’s setting of the psalm Laudate Pueri was performed in the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum under the direction of conductor Václav Luks, alongside concert works written for the Dresden orchestra in Vivaldi’s time. The programme was enriched with selected compositions of Johann Georg Pisendel, Vivaldi’s pupil and former Kapellmeister at the court of the Electorate of Saxony, and of Johann Friedrich Fasch, the court composer of the Dresden orchestra.

In the second decade of the 18th century, Antonio Vivaldi’s remarkable creative span reached its full breadth, ranging from sonatas and concerts to operas and liturgical music. Not only Vivaldi’s orchestral music, but also his liturgical works were known and performed in Dresden. Laudate pueri RV 601 is a typical example of Vivaldi’s late work from the early 1730s. The extensive setting of the psalm is intended for a solo voice accompanied by an orchestra including a transverse flute and two oboes reinforcing the violins.

The demanding solo part, reaching in a number of places the note d”’, indicates that Vivaldi had in mind a specific singer, whose identity is not known. During the concert, the psalm was performed by the German soprano Mirella Hagen who has become known to the Czech audience thanks to this year’s successful production of Handel’s opera Alcina in Brno, among other performances.

At the beginning and immediately after the intermission, two examples of a specific kind of concert written for a large ensemble, “concerto con molti stromenti”, which Vivaldi composed for the Dresden orchestra, were performed. These compositions have the structure of a solo concert, but in these solos, various instruments are used independently or in groups. Two violins (Ivan Iliev, Helena Zemanová), two oboes (Katharina Andres and Petra Ambrosi), and two French horns (Jiří Tarantík and Miroslav Rovenský) stood out in Vivaldi’s Concerto in F Major. After the intermission, the Concerto in G Minor followed, in which the composer employed two flutes (Julie Braná and Lucie Dušková) instead of French horns with great effect.