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Harpsichord use in Vivaldi "Gloria"

I'm planning on doing the Vivaldi "Gloria" this fall with my community choir. I've all the orchestra parts including a full score, but wonder about using a harpsichord. I have one available, but I'm not sure what I should have my accompanist play. The continuo part is quiet limited and in listening to recordings I hear harpsichord in sections playing something that is more then just the continuo part. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. 
on May 5, 2014 4:27am
Hi Richard, 
 
I have found that most Harpsichordists who have the experience to play continuo can fill in the part to your taste. If you are looking for a more ornate sound, I would make sure to tell the Harpsichordist just that. 
 
There is a fully realized version of that particular part on ChoralWiki. 
 
Hope this helps!
Lynn 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on May 5, 2014 5:50pm
I asked a friend who is a harpsichord expert, "Would harpsichord have been used on Vivaldi's Gloria?" His answer is below.
 
Tom Bookhout
thomasbookhout(a)gmail.com
 
 
"Short answer is yes. There are many contemporary accounts of harpsichords being used in churches as a solo and accompanied instrument in Italy -- in many areas it is used exclusively in Lent, but it is also used in music for feast days. Also a big generalization, but for the whole 17th century continuo groups tend to be quite large and diverse, with multiple keyboard instruments, lutes, guitars, lyra viol etc... Also multiple gallery organs seem to be used for continuo even at a distance. Some bizarre accounts talk about having singers/instrumentalists at front, harpsichord in middle of church, organ at back -- apparently the harpsichord helps the organist hear what the instrumentalists are doing. 
 
Less generally, the most relevant sources would be Geminiani 1757, A Scarlatti 1715, Gasparini 1708, Pasquini 1695. Geminiani says, specifically referring to accompanying choral music (cantatas in A Scarlatti style) "I repeat here, what I have said in my Preface, that the Art of Accompaniment chiefly consists in rendering the Sounds of the Harpsichord lasting, for frequent interruptions of the sound are inconsistent with true melody, the learner is to observe not to exhaust the harmony all at once, never lay down all the fingers at once on the keys, but touch several notes whereof the chords consist in succession" He is specifically saying to use the harpsichord, and saying to use it in an idiomatic way, where there is a constant flow of notes, regardless of what the bass line is doing. 
 
I also know that there are contemporaneous realized parts for cantatas by A Scarlatti that are for both organ and harpsichord at the same time, and they are fully written out. 
 
Here is a nice list of primary sources for continuo in Italy http://www.earlymusicsources.com/home/basso-continuo-sources/primary-sources
 
The most recent book is "the Performance of Italian Basso Continuo" by Giulia Nuti.
 
Interestingly there is some evidence for the use of the Cristofori piano as a continuo in secular vocal music -- none in church, however. It sounds very harpsichord like. 
 
Thanks, Guy
www.guywhatley.com"
 
 
on May 5, 2014 9:26pm
Be sure you find a player who understands continuo realization and who knows harpsichord technique. This may be a different person from your rehearsal pianist. 
 
As Tom and Guy note above, later Baroque practice is to use both organ and harpsichord. The organ supports the chorus and generally only plays in the choral movements.  The harpsichord would be used in all movements as a support for the orchestra.  There would, therefore, be both organ and harpsichord playing together in the choral movements.
 
On the other hand, Baroque composers were generally rather practical (and not particularly dogmatic).  If you have only harpsichord or organ available (instead of both), it is fine to use one or the other.
on May 6, 2014 8:52am
My accompanist does well, using the realized part and embellishing a bit.  Please make sure that the score, parts and choral parts are all from the same publisher.  The Walton materials, which I prefer, are NOT compatible with the Ricordi edition of the piece  -  different sources were used to prepare the editions, and many measures contain music different one to the other.
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