Monteverdi: Vespers 1610

Monteverdi: Vespers 1610

by The King's Consort
     
 

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It hasn't been too long a time ago when it was a frustrating business trying to find a good recording of Claudio Monteverdi's signature masterwork "Vespro della Beata Vergene," arguably the most ambitious entrance examination ever fulfilled in the history of music. In the old days of LPs, one in search of some measure of transparency in this work would run up against

Overview

It hasn't been too long a time ago when it was a frustrating business trying to find a good recording of Claudio Monteverdi's signature masterwork "Vespro della Beata Vergene," arguably the most ambitious entrance examination ever fulfilled in the history of music. In the old days of LPs, one in search of some measure of transparency in this work would run up against performances recorded in cavernous cathedrals with wobbly sounding singers, inarticulate and disinterested sounding continuo realizations, and leaden, dead-in-the-water tempi employed. On the other hand, the situation lately has become an embarrassment of riches, and the notion of "where to begin" becomes a daunting proposition indeed. One who really loves the "Vespro della Beata Vergene," or "1610 Vespers" as they are called for short, won't mind owning more than one recording of the work so long as it's a good one, so evaluating each new version becomes a matter of how it stacks up against previous, and positively evaluated, recorded performances. This Hyperion recording, Monteverdi Vespers 1610, is by Robert King and the King's Consort, a group perhaps best known for its comprehensive effort to record all the vocal works of Henry Purcell, a composer a full century away from the time of Monteverdi. Nevertheless, no connoisseur of Baroque sacred music in their right mind would object to the realization here; it is full bodied, completely transparent, and the instrumental component appropriate to the period, even if the "A" of the instruments is tuned to the current standard of 440 cycles per second rather than something a little farther down the scale. By comparison, René Jacobs' celebrated Harmonia Mundi recording with Concerto Vocale was more expedient in devising an intimate, one-to-a-part relationship to the texture than is heard here, but King's interpretation does attempt to retain some of the sheer bigness of Monteverdi's conception, apparently unique in its own time. King also tends toward slightly faster tempi than is the expected norm; the pace used for the psalm setting Laetatus sum is almost as quick as that often used for the Credo in Johann Sebastian Bach's "Mass in B Minor." At least the music never drags, and other attributes, such as the soloists' ability to execute rapid-fire single notes with ease, and the fine vocal quality of the ethereal sopranos hovering above the busy string parts in the concerto "Duo Seraphim," are all very favorable to the music. Monteverdi Vespers 1610 is also available in a double-SACD version, contains the complete 1610 Vespers including both versions of the "Magnificat" and, according to the notes, "was made possible by all the many hundreds of people who donated to Hyperion's Appeal for Recording Funds in 2005." Those who contributed to this worthy, if unusual, appeal for funds will be doubtless glad to know that their investment has been richly rewarded by Monteverdi Vespers 1610.

Editorial Reviews

Time Out New York - Steve Smith
[King] demonstrates artistic imagination, striking an ideal balance between presumed authenticity and genuine drama. Soloists perform daring feats with grace, the chorus sounds appropriately weighty, and instrumental climaxes impart a gripping sense of occasion.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/13/2006
Label:
Hyperion Uk
UPC:
0034571175317
catalogNumber:
67531

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Vespro della beata vergine, for chorus & instruments, SV 206
  2. Mass de Cappella for 6 voices on Gomberti's motet "In Illo Tempore" (from Vespers), SV 205

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