Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Allan Kozinn on Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers

"[E]arly-music groups are lining up to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Monteverdi’s Vespro Della Beata Vergine (Vespers of the Blessed Virgin). The high-energy performance by Boston Baroque at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on Saturday evening was the third in New York since January. … What makes this repetition attractive rather than redundant is that the 1610 Vespers, as they are popularly known, were published long before composers’ scores became exercises in micromanagement. And because Monteverdi left so many choices to performers … every reading is almost guaranteed to have qualities all its own. Boston Baroque’s music director, Martin Pearlman, says he considers the Vespers one of the ensemble’s signature works, with good reason: its 1997 recording (on Telarc) remains a standout in a crowded field. … Because the Vespers use texts that make the set appropriate for any of several liturgical feasts in honor of Mary, Mr. Pearlman chose one — the Feast of the Assumption, on Aug. 15 — and added chant appropriate to services for that day before each of the Psalm settings and the Magnificat. He made the same choice on his recording" ("Music Review," New York Times, 3/8/10).


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