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19.1.10

Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 in 2010, Part 2

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Read my review published today on the Washington Post Web site:

Monteverdi, 1610 Vespers:
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Kammerchor Stuttgart / Bernius


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La Capella Reial / Savall


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Taverner Consort / Parrott
Charles T. Downey, High and low notes in ARTEK and Piffaro’s performance of Monteverdi’s ‘Vespers’
Washington Post, January 19, 2010
In honor of the 400th anniversary of the publication of Claudio Monteverdi's "Vespers of the Blessed Virgin," the National Gallery of Art hosted a performance on Sunday night of most of the music now known as the "1610 Vespers." It was the second concert in as many weeks to feature this baroque masterpiece, but a capacity crowd filled the West Garden Court.

This was a higher-octane version than the Folger Consort's performance of the work at the Washington National Cathedral the previous weekend. The museum's venue is smaller, if no less echo-prone, and was filled by a larger instrumental ensemble of more than 20 players, a combination of the ARTEK and Piffaro bands. Lute, guitar, cittern, theorbo, lirone, harp, organ and harpsichord provided a myriad of colors, more lavish than strictly necessary, to the continuo harmonies. Among the soloists, standout playing came from cornettist Michael Collver and paired violinists Enrico Gatti and Vita Wallace. [Continue reading]
Monteverdi, Vespro della Beata Vergine
ARTEK, Piffaro, and National Gallery of Art Vocal Ensemble
National Gallery of Art

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Jeffrey Kurtzman, The Monteverdi Vespers of 1610: Music, Context, Performance
From the Department of Too Involved for a Newspaper Review: as Jeffrey Kurtzman has written about at some length, the "1610 Vespers" does not really exist, meaning that what is most often performed (as in both version reviewed this month) is a selection and adaptation. The title page of the 1610 publication reads, in Latin, Cantus sanctissimae virginis, or "Song of the Most Holy Virgin," which then continues by describing the various parts of the publication, a Mass for six voices, many pieces for a sung Vespers service (some with alternate options), and some sacred concert pieces, which do not really fit into Vespers but could be used to ornament its celebration on important feast days.

As such the piece may not have received a premiere performance, as no evidence exists about it, although the speculation centers on the basilica of Santa Barbara in Mantua. Some musical and liturgical details -- the form of the hymn melody paraphrased in Monteverdi's setting of Ave maris stella, the instrumental version of the litany (Sonata sopra Sancta Maria), and the trinitarian text of Duo seraphim -- suggest the Gonzaga ducal chapel's practice as the background for the music.

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