Claudio Monteverdi – Vespers of the Blessed Virgin


Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643)

Vespers of the Blessed Virgin (2CDs)

Label: Naxos, 8.550662-63
Year: 1995


Sopranos – Kym Amps, Janet Coxwell
Altos – Angus Davidson, Frances Jellard
Tenors – Robin Doveton, Julian Podger (with John Bowen, no.7)
Basses – David van Asch, Adrian Peacock Violins, Pauline Nobes, William Thorp
Cornetts – Jeremy West, Nicholas Perry, Susan Smith
Sackbuts – Paul Nieman, Martin Pope, David Stewart
Violoncello – Jan Spencer Chitarrone, Robin Jeffry

Organ – Terence Charlston

The Scholars Baroque Ensemble

David van Asch – conductor


Disc 1
01. Domine ad adiuvandum
02. Psalm 109: Dixit Dominus
03. Concerto: Nigra sum
04. Psalm 112: Laudate pueri dominum
05. Concerto: Pulchra es
06. Psalm 121: Laetatus sum
07. Concerto: Duo seraphim
08. Psalm 126: Nisi Dominus
09. Concerto: Audi coelum
10. Psalm 147: Lauda Ierusalem

Disc 2
01. Sonata: Sancta Maria ora pro nobis
02. Hymn: Ave maris stella
03. Magnificat: Magnificat
04. Magnificat: Et exultavit
05. Magnificat: Quia respexit
06. Magnificat: Quia fecit mihi magna
07. Magnificat: Et misericordia
08. Magnificat: Fecit potentiam
09. Magnificat: Deposuit potentes de sede
10. Magnificat: Esurientes implevit bonis
11. Magnificat: Suscepit Israel
12. Magnificat: Sicut locutus est
13. Magnificat: Gloria Patri
14. Magnificat: Sicut erat in principio

[b]The lack of precise information about Monteverdi’s original intentions when writing his Vespers of 1610 makes it impossible to claim true “authenticity” when preparing performances of this marvellous work. First, like other composers until late in the seventeenth century, Monteverdi did not specify instrumentation of his works in any great detail (in only two parts of the Vespers does he give precise indications as to instrumental scoring). Secondly, it is not absolutely clear what instruments Monteverdi had at his disposal and which could or could not have been used in church. It is not even absolutely clear that Monteverdi wrote the Vespers exclusively for use in a religious service or, indeed, if they were written to be performed as a whole. Additionally, musicologists are not in agreement as to the correct pitch used for different parts of the work.
The Scholars Baroque Ensemble, using a score prepared for them by Clifford Bartlett, has opted to perform the work with one singer and one player to a part with a continuo section consisting of violoncello, chitarrone and organ. No sixteen foot instrument is used. Antiphons, suitable only for church services at specific times of the church year, have not been added and the final Magnificat has been maintained at the higher pitch to give a more dramatic ending to the whole work.


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