Claudio Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine
La Chapelle Royale, Collegium Vocale Gent, Les Sacqueboutiers de Toulouse, Philippe Herreweghe (Conductor)
Recording: Abbaye-aux-Dames, Saintes (July 1986) – 89’27
harmonia mundi 501247,48 – Booklet in English, French, German
Monteverdi composed this spectacular collection of religious music in 1610 with a dedication to Pope Paul V. It is an extravagant statement of the Baroque Revolution, blending the Franco-Flemish polyphony with the Italian style. This miraculous reconciliation of solemnity and suavity with true religious fervor has made the Vespers the touchstone of the Monteverdi Revolution.
Philippe Herreweghe understands this style completely. It would be difficult to imagine another recording which so beautifully realizes the treacherous vocal writing. Monteverdi asks the chorus to articulate repeated notes, melismas, goat trills, leaps and scale passages of an extremely bravura nature.
In the 19th century Bel Canto operas, these vocal flourishes were standard for the soloists of La sonnambula, Lucia di Lammermoor, or La donna del lago, but certainly not for the chorus. It is breathtaking to hear the Chapelle Royale and the Collegium Vocal Gent navigate their way through such difficult music while maintaining a sincere and sustained aura of devout religious fervor.
This is in every way a spectacular recording, which deserves the reissue on harmonia mundi’s hmGold series.