Search - Claudio Monteverdi, Heinrich Scheidemann, Alexander Schneider :: Monteverdi: Vespro della beata vergine

Monteverdi: Vespro della beata vergine
Claudio Monteverdi, Heinrich Scheidemann, Alexander Schneider
Monteverdi: Vespro della beata vergine
Genre: Classical


Larger Image

CD Details

Similar CDs


CD Reviews

Yes! This One Gets It Right!
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 10/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Tragicomedia's 2-CD recording of the sublime Vespro isn't one of the top ten sellers, but it's as good as any and way better than most. The standard of comparison has to be the best-seller performance by Andrew Parrott; to my ears, Tragicomedia exceeds in every movements of the Vespers except the tenor trio Duo Seraphim, which is a toss-up. The only thing that still recommends the Parrott recording is the participation of Emma Kirkby, whose voice is so caressingly beautiful that I forget the bland context.

Right away, in the Domine ad Adiuvandum, conductor Steven Stubbs shows his brilliance in the clarity of the many rhythmic prolations (changes of count), precise and emphatic articulations, and acclamatory affect. This is truly music of exaltation! That spirit continues throughout. This is a performance in which the details are etched and polished.

Right away, one hears also that the instrumental forces are superb. The cornetti, of course, who else?, are Bruce Dickey and Doron Sherwin, together with the rest of Concerto Palatino. But the surprise is the musicianship of the strings of Tragicomedia. Violinists Milos Valent and Peter Spissky deliver the crisp, forward kind of fiddling that matches the cornetti phrase for phrase. The lower instruments - gamba, violone - have character for a change, and the plucked strings of the continuo are agile participants in the dialogue. Stubbs himself is a fine lutenist, and here he's joined by Paul O'Dette on chitarrone, the ruling deity of that instrument. A last critical component of this Monteverdi orchestra is the organ, played very sturdily by Detlef Bratschke. The organ itself is a special instrument, the Van Hagerbeer organ, recently restored to its 1691 voicing and tuning. The pitch of this performance, by the way, is A465 - 'cornetto' pitch - allowing a brighter, more joyful timbre throughout.

All the vocal soloists are up to the task of sounding as secure and incisive as the instruments. In other words, this is a performance of excellent balance and distribution. The big margin of superiority, to my ears, comes from the lower male voices - three bass-baritones - who have the sprightly timbres of tenors, the sprezzatura, while also having the substance in their lowest notes to give the vocal ensemble plenty of 'bottom.' This becomes evident especially in the concluding Magnificat, where they deliver the majesty for which all the delicate and playful previous antiphons have been preparing us. The Magnificat, by the way, is performed, following the 'chiavetti' designation in the original manuscripts, in a downward transposition, which makes the fullness of the male voices even more critical.

I'm listening to the Audi Coelum as I write. What control of rhythms! The triple-rhythm ritornello-like sections so lively, and then the sweet solemnity of the duples! That's conducting! And then! Lauda! Praise! Praise Jerusalem! Yes! That's exaltation!

The eight-to eleven part polyphony of the five Psalmus movements is exactly right, in that each voice sings forth and forward independently, and yet all voices blend in cadence chords. This is, if you haven't realized, entirely a one-on-a-part performance. No performance by a larger choir has a chance achieving such clarity of detail.

The climax of the Vespers, for intrumentalists, is always the Sonata sopra Sancta Maria, a tour de force of rhythmic progressions (prolations again) and counterrhythms. Bruce and Doron are the cornettists in many of the recordings by various ensembles; this time they are supernaturally graceful and decorous, and the paired violins catch their inflections and toss them back just as gracefully.

How much more can I laud this performance? I might mention that the price is attractive. There are a couple of other recordings of exceptional quality, but none better."
Dry and drier
esseyo | Jersey City, NJ United States | 05/05/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)

"The biggest weakness is the dry acoustics. This results in dull weak bass notes and a complete lack of sonority. Also this piece has quite a number of places where one voice echos another. Here the effect is totally sterile because of the dry acoustics.

Another weakness is that instruments seem to be deliberately given more prominence than the voices. Singing should be the focal point not the instrument playing (which is excellent here; the biggest plus in the recording).

The singing while technically sound, besides being dulled by the acoustics, is in general spiritually uninspiring. For example, "Laudate Pueri" sounds downright like a madrigal. "Nisi Dominus" sounds weak and limp especially the short meek treble singing at the beginning.

I can't help but compare this recording to Andrew Parrott's which I consider the gold standard. "Pulchra es" and "Duo Seraphim" lack spark despite agile singing. "Audi coelum" should be a showcase for the tenor not the lute yet the lute is artificially too prominent.

The "Magnificat" isn't much better. I love the "Et exultvit" and "Quia fecit" .. the interplay between baritones, tenor, violins; but in this recording you can barely hear the tenor. In "Qia respexit", there are sackbutts and cornettos playing therefore it makes sense that the baritone singing should be strong and powerful throughout yet he is sleep singing until finally awaken in the closing measures. The cornetto playing in "Deposuit potentes" is fantastic but the singing is tiny.

In summary, look else where."