Monteverdi Vespers of 1610

£18.00

Music of the seventeenth century was little known to the concertgoing or record-buying public, up until fifty years or so ago when Monteverdi’s Vespers were performed under the inspiration of figures such as Michael Tippett as part of a modern revival of early music. Subsequently, it has been one of the most celebrated works both with choral societies and early music specialists.

Here, the Rodolfus Choir offer their interpretation of one of the most magnificent works of the seventeenth century. Following their highly successful release with Signum earlier this year, Choral Arrangements by Clytus Gottwald, the Rodolfus Choir perform earlymusic as sensitively and musically as they perform music of the twentieth-century.

Title page of the 1610 edition of Monteverdi’s Vespers

The English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble can be found at: www.ecse.co.uk

SKU: SIGCD109

What people are saying

"They make a light, bright, exciting sound as evidenced by this terrific double CD of Monteverdi’s Vespers … real spring in their tone … crystal diction throughout"

The Times

"This non-liturgical performance is terrifically fresh, especially in ‘Dixit Dominus’, ‘Lauda Jerusalem’ and the cross-rhythms of the Sonata ‘Sopra Sancta Maria’ … great spirit and originality"

BBC Music Magazine

"There’s something truly joyful about Ralph Alwood’s Rodolfus Choir … eloquent conviction of its young members … By raising the lyrical qualities of Monteverdi’s ground-breaking work above its dramatic, Allwood and his team forge a persuasive interpretation rich in nuance and fine details. A highly rewarding listen"

Classic FM Magazine

"The sound of choir and ensemble massed together is altogether pleasing, and the playing of the Southern Sinfonia is arguably this set’s greatest strength"

Gramophone

The Rodolfus Choir
Southern Sinfonia
The English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble

Release date:14th Nov 2007
Order code:SIGCD109
Barcode: 635212010921

  1. Dominus ad adiuvandum – – 2.05
  2. Dixit Dominus – – 6.54
  3. Nigra sum – – 3.37
  4. Laudate pueri – – 6.39
  5. Pulchra es – – 4.3
  6. Laetatus sum – – 7.27
  7. Duo seraphim – – 6.2
  8. Nisi Dominus – – 4.3
  9. Audi coelum – – 9.21
  10. Lauda Jerusalem – – 3.52
  11. Sonata – – 6.37
  12. Ave maris stella – – 9.13
  13. Magnificat – – 0.36
  14. Et exultavit – – 1.16
  15. Quia respexit – – 1.37
  16. Quia fecit – – 1.17
  17. Et misericordia – – 2.34
  18. Fecit potentiam – – 1.00
  19. Deposuit – – 2.24
  20. Esurientes – – 1.24
  21. Suscepit – – 1.2
  22. Sicut locutus – – 1
  23. Sicut locutus – – 2.38
  24. Sicut erat – – 1.56

The Times, December 2007
****

Every year selected singers from cathedral, church and school choirs take part in Eton Choral Courses, from which the conductor Ralph Allwood further cherry-picks the elite Rodolfus Choir.

They make a light, bright, exciting sound as evidenced by this terrific double CD of Monteverdi’s Vespers. There is real spring in their tone, particularly in the Nisi Dominus, and crystal diction throughout. The solo voices have a youthful plaintiveness- enjoy the balancing tenors over the walking lute in Laetatus Sum. Margaret Faultless leads the excellent Southern Sinfonia, while the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble add a princely lustre to the worship.

Rick Jones

BBC Music Magazine, January 2008

Enthusiasm for Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers shows no signs of abating. We had versions from Alessandrini in 2004 (Naïve), Robert King (Hyperion) and McCreesh (Archiv) in 2006, and now two further releases from Jordi Savall and Ralph Allwood with his young English choir. Of all of these, the only ones attempting a liturgical presentation within a Vespers service are those by McCreesh and Savall.

Savall’s version is, in fact, a reissue in hybrid SACD format of his 1988 recording. This had the advantage of having been performed in the church of Santa Barbara in Mantua, one of the possible venues of the work’s first performance. The SACD sound gives a vivid sense of sitting in a particular place in the church throughout, which means that, while the soloists come across clearly, some of the choral pieces are a little distant. This all adds to the live ambience (especially in the musical echoes of ‘Audi coelum’), which is in marked contrast to the rather dead ambience of the music’s pacing. In ‘Laetatus sum’ almost every phrase has a ritardando and only when the stately progress blossoms into monumentality (in the great seven-voiced Magnificat) does the music become enriched. Liturgically things are a little confusing………

The Rodolfus Choir is made up of students under 25 years of age from the Eton Choral Courses. This non-liturgical performance is terrifically fresh, especially in ‘Dixit Dominus’, ‘Lauda Jerusalem’ and the cross-rhythms of the Sonata ‘Sopra Sancta Maria’. One or two of the solo voices are a bit raw, but the overall effect is one of great spirit and originality. The instrumentalists acquit themselves well and sometimes (in the Sonata for example) they approach panache.

The recorded sound is nice, though the choir sounds a little distant and there are some mushy harmonies in ‘Ave maris stella’. For a more consistent version of a non-liturgical performance try the authentically smaller forces of The Scholars Baroque Ensemble.

Anthony Pryer

Classic FM Magazine, March 2008, ****

There’s something truly joyful about Ralph Alwood’s Rodolfus Choir, which stems in part from its cultivated singing and in greater part from the eloquent conviction of its young members. Cultivation and conviction are dual hallmarks of its Monteverdi recording, informing the stylish work of the choir’s nine soloists and underlining the group’s high status within the wider British choral world. By raising the lyrical qualities of Monteverdi’s ground-breaking work above its dramatic, Allwood and his team forge a persuasive interpretation rich in nuance and fine details. A highly rewarding listen.

Andrew Stewart

Gramophone, April 2008

Let’s get the bean-counting out of the way first: this new recording retains the high-notated pitch-level for the "Lauda Jerusalem" and the Magnificat as well as the publication’s original running order, and the distinction between chorus and soloists. In this sense Ralph Allwood’s vision of Monteverdi’s masterpiece is a traditional one. The sound of choir and ensemble massed together is altogether pleasing, and the playing of the Southern Sinfonia is arguably this set’s greatest strength, coming into its own in the "Sonata sopra Sancta Maria". The soloists manage their numbers very well for the most part, though the tempi are generally on the slow side ("Pulchra es" in particular); but it seems to me that even the best of the singers and instrumentalists sound strained in the Magnificat, owing to the high pitch (of all of Andrew Parrott’s suggestions regarding the work, this is the least controversial, but it is surprising how frequently it is disregarded even in the face of the problems it was meant to address).

Fabrice Fitch