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Antonio Vivaldi: Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis seiner Werke (RV) (review)

From: Notes
Volume 65, Number 2, December 2008
pp. 294-298 | 10.1353/not.0.0091

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

The only competition for Peter Ryom's Antonio Vivaldi: Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis seiner Werke (RV) comes from earlier works by Ryom himself. These begin with his Verzeichnis der Werke Antonio Vivaldis, Kleine Ausgabe (Leipzig: Deutscher Verlag für Musik, 1974; revised ed., 1977) and continue with the collective source-study of unprinted materials Les manuscrits des Vivaldi (Copenhagen: Antonio Vivaldi Archives, 1977) plus the instrumental-music catalog called Répertoire des oeuvres d'Antonio Vivaldi : les compositions instrumentales (Copenhagen: Engstrøm & Sødring, 1986). The first exposition of the RV numbering system came in his Table de concordances des œuvres (RV) (Copenhagen: Engstrøm & Sødring, 1973). All of Ryom's Vivaldi works (apart from translations into English of prefaces and introductions in the two later catalogues) are in French or German. The contents and main differences between the three catalogs (hereafter cited as A, B, and C) are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. 

(Ryom review)

Any reader comparing these publications at a glance will be led to believe that there is little difference in the contents, because the outer limits of work numbers do not seem to vary by category. However, the total number of instrumental works (covered in all three) is not actually uniform, because relative to A (and to each other), B and C contain insertions and deletions. Fifty-seven new works have been added to the pool of authentic works since 1974. Seventy-one entries have been added to the appendix (Anhang) of works not considered to be by Vivaldi, and some of these are collections of works or work-fragments. Recently disattributed works hold a permanent place in the main numbering system but in lieu of an entry, the reader is referred to its new placement in the appendix. Some works which were originally placed in the appendix have taken "newly discovered" numbers (i.e., 751+) and are now integrated in the main sequence. What is stable is the tree-structure organization for instrumental music, which begins with genre (sonata, concerto), then passes to instrumentation, then to key (further segregated by mode). Ryom has abandoned an earlier sub-numbering system (in which some of this classification data was encoded) in C. Operas are ordered alphabetically. Vocal repertories employ various principles of organization (key and instrumentation where multiple works bear the same title; alphabetical order for the operas).

Table 1 also indicates that since C has a smaller page count than B, which covers only instrumental music, its typography (while admirably clear and employing helpful contrasts and running headers) relies on font sizes that will be problematical for some users. This raises the issue of whether committing so much material to one volume was a wise choice. It also raises the question of whether it was really necessary to reproduce the section on instrumental music. The whole of B is represented in the first 258 pages of C. Yet it is not entirely the same material. B includes with each entry a generous comment on details of manuscript sources. This has been almost entirely excluded from C, although the sources themselves are fully listed. No harm is done to those seeking instrumental listings, since they can still consult B and also Les manuscrits. Since, however, a terse listing is maintained for the vocal and dramatic music in C, there is no catalog that offers for this repertoire the same depth of information on sources as found in B (other than what is available in Les manuscrits). However, source description can be found in the prose commentaries on particular genres of Vivaldi's music in a series of publications made under the auspices of the International Vivaldi Institute in Venice. These include Michael Talbot's studies of the sacred vocal works (The Sacred Vocal Music of Antonio Vivaldi [Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 1995]) and the cantatas (The Chamber Cantatas of Antonio Vivaldi [Wood bridge: Boydell Press, 2006]), Federico Maria Sardelli's book on works involving flute (La musica per flauto [Florence: Leo S. Olschki, 2001]; trans. by Michael Talbot, Vivaldi's Music for Flute and Recorder [Burling ton, VT: Ashgate, 2007]), and Reinhard Strohm's new study of the operas (The Operas of Antonio Vivaldi [Florence...

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