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Monteverdi: Mass Of Thanksgiving / Parrott, Taverner Choir


Release Date: 04/07/2008 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 49876   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  AnonymousGirolamo FantiniClaudio MonteverdiGiuseppe Scarani,   ... 
Performer:  Richard WistreichJoseph Cornwell
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner ConsortTaverner PlayersTaverner Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A very special and enriching recording.

This recording represents perhaps the most convincing reconstruction of the musical aspect of a particular liturgical celebration that I have yet come across. There are various reasons for this, not least the fact that we have more evidence than usual for the occasion in question: the date (November 21st, 1631); place (St Mark's Venice); motive (thanksgiving for the delivery of Venice from the plague); music (some of it, like the magnificent seven-part Gloria, indisputedly, while the rest can be restored with educated guesswork); and, last but not least, documentary evidence in the form of accounts—both financial and eyewitness. Beyond all of this, however, is the quality of the
Read more performance itself, complete with appropriate sound effects (such as the gentle clanking of the thurible and the crack of fireworks that brings a distinctly authentic southern European Catholic atmosphere). Tastefully deployed, as here, they bring a sense of ceremony and ritual—which must surely be part of any attempt at reconstructing such a solemn, festive event.

On the recording, the atmosphere is heightened by the use of carefully worked-out spatial effects in an attempt to take into consideration the original positioning and movement in St Mark's. It was actually made in a building about as far removed from the splendours of the great Venetian basilica as possible—Abbey Road Studio No. 1—but the space there was clearly large and flexible enough to recreate the idea of distance in the approaching and receding processions framing the Mass, and (though less noticeably) the relative positions of concertato and plainchant choirs, organs and other instruments. Credit must be given to the technicians not only for achieving this sense of movement without disorientating the listener, but also seeking out a rich, clear sound churchy but not muffled—an improvement, it has to be said, on what you would probably have had as a member of the congregation in St Mark's.

The singers of the Taverner Consort and Choir may not all have the most beautiful of voices, but they bring an intensity to the sound that is laudably consistent throughout—it must, after all, have been an emotional occasion. This goes for the chant as much as for the polyphonic and concerted items. The chanting is refreshingly unfussy, direct and masculine—a point reinforced by Parrott's belief that it should not necessarily be performed with tenors and basses entirely in unison so that where it becomes uncomfortably high for the latter they should quite naturally fall down the octave. This makes for a still relatively strange sound to modern ears, but one that is not—and perhaps not coincidentally—without drama. If you thought all chant consisted of long, hopelessly meandering melodies, try the tone for the Gospel: its minimalism (stemming from the text) is extraordinarily hypnotic in effect. I would strongly endorse Parrott's recommendation to resist any temptation to skip the chant tracks, as he points out, the architecture of the whole provides a perhaps surprisingly satisfying musical experience.

The musical centrepiece of the reconstruction is without doubt the Gloria, resplendent with restored trumpet parts, and Parrott musters his forces well to bring out the drama of the contrasted sections: the soloists agile and expressive by turn, the choir incisive, and the instrumental playing superb, particularly from the violins. Yet there are many more goodies, not least Rovetta's Credo setting with its own internal contrasts and strongly melodic appeal (''Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine'' is a particularly lovely moment) and the virtuoso instrumental items, clearly chosen with care from the output of little-known masters such as Scarani, Usper and Fantini.

By their nature reconstructions do not necessarily conform to CD requirements, but even if one-and-a-half hours of music spread over two discs does not give as good value as some, you can be sure of the quality. All in all, this is a very special and enriching recording.

-- Tess Knighton, Gramophone [11/1989]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Introit by Anonymous
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players,  Taverner Choir
Period: Medieval 
2.
Sonata Imperiale II: Intrada by Girolamo Fantini
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1638; Italy 
3.
Selva morale e spirituale: Ab aeterno ordinato sum by Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Richard Wistreich (Bass)
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players,  Taverner Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
4.
Elevation by Giuseppe Scarani
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players,  Taverner Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
5.
Sonate, symphonie e retornelli, Op. 8: Canzona a 4 by Biagio Marini
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players,  Taverner Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1626; Italy 
6.
Vespro della Beata Vergine: Audi coelum by Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Joseph Cornwell (Tenor)
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players,  Taverner Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1610; Mantua, Italy 
7.
Recessional by Girolamo Fantini
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players,  Taverner Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
8.
Selva morale e spirituale: Excerpt(s) by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players,  Taverner Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
9.
Credo by Giovanni Rovetta
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players,  Taverner Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
10.
Messa e salmi concertati: Et in Spiritum Sanctum by Giovanni Rovetta
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players,  Taverner Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
11.
Sonata à 8 by Francesco Usper
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort,  Taverner Players
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 

Featured Sound Samples

Messa e salmi concertati (Rovetta): Et in Spiritum Sanctum
Sonata a 8 (Usper)

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