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Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine, 1610
Claudio Monteverdi, Jordi Savall, La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine, 1610
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #2


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Morose Monteverdi
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 09/26/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This is not a recent performance. I was present, in fact, in November 1988, when this live performance was recorded. The fact that it's a live performance is important; it mitigates some of the problems of the final product, though mitigation won't increase anyone's listening pleasure. The acoustic there was both spotty and murky, and the choir was too large for recording on such terms anyway. Throughout the recording, the balance between the soloists and the instruments is spotty. The worst is to be heard in the Nigra Sum and other portions of movements where a solo voice contends with continuo; it sounds as if the singer is standing twenty feet from the mike while the theorbo, harp, or organ is in your lap. There's a halo of white noise around the choir most of the time, and the six-voice Dixit Dominus and ten-voice Nisi Dominus are too mushy acoustically to follow the distinct voices independently.

So many fine musicians, and some of them friends, were part fo this performance - singers Roberto Abbondanza and Gerd Turk, soprano Maria Christina Kiehr, cornettist Bruce Dickey, trombonist Wim Becu, Chitarronist Stephen Stubbs, organist Rinaldo Alessandrini, and muiscal demigod Jordi Savall himself - that I feel as traitorous as Benedict Arnold or Joseph Lieberman in regarding this as one of the least satisfactory recordings of the Monteverdi Vespers on the market. But there are other flaws beyond the electronic technology, the greatest of which is that I just don't hear JOY in Jordi's interpretation. It doesn't sound celebratory. At times, it's downright morose. How's your Latin? Laudate! Laetatus sum! Lauda Jerusalem! Magificat! This is not a text of pentitence; it's all about praise and beatitude. Aside from the bottom-heavy acoustic, what went wrong? Well, some of the tempi are too slow. At times, Jordi's elicits a kind of 'surge' from voices or instruments that strikes me as more anxious than joyful. Monserrat Figueras is an incredible singer, but her voice is more suited to expressing sorrow than exaltation. Altogether, even fine musicianship isn't enough to make this Vespers as thrilling as it should be."