Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Remastered for Super Audio surround sound, and the result is spectacular. The producer intended to capture the acoustics of the basilica that Monteverdi was familiar with.
Vespro della Beata Vergine
Jordi Savall, cond; Soloists; Padova Centre for Ancient Music Ch; La Capella Reial de Catalunya; Schola Gregoriana
ALIA VOX 9855 (2 Hybrid multichannel SACDs: 95:43
Text and Translation)
This is a Super Audio remastering of Savall’s 1988 recording (13:4), made in the ducal basilica of Santa Barbara in Mantua. Like Harry Christophers eight months earlier (12:6), Savall recast the work as a Vespers of St. Barbara, the patron of the basilica, on the assumption that it might have been performed there before publication. This was accomplished chiefly by using six chant antiphons for the feast that was proper to the basilica, even though they fitted the modes of the psalms no better than any Marian feast does (a point that I failed to grasp in the original review). Christophers went further, changing the litany to “Santa Barbara, ora pro nobis” and radically rearranging the order of the pieces, in the process completing a liturgical reconstruction of sorts. But Savall’s is the only recording of the masterpiece recorded in that basilica (John Eliot Gardiner did record it at St. Mark’s in Venice, 14:5). Even though it was recorded with a pair of omnidirectional microphones, it has been remastered for Super Audio surround sound, and the result is spectacular. The producer intended to capture the acoustics of the basilica that Monteverdi was familiar with. Savall thinks he might have first performed the work there, suggesting an occasion on March 25, 1610, without offering any evidence for the idea. Scholars have suggested a couple of other occasions that prove to be impossible on closer examination.
The original review indicated that this version had a good claim to the top of the heap, though my assumption that the antiphons for St. Barbara were modally correct influenced that choice.
There have been over 20 recordings since then, and Masaaki Suzuki (25:2) and Rinaldo Alessandrini (28:4) are among the best, the latter among the few recordings that adopts a chamber style without choral voices. Both of these stick to the publication of 1610 with both Magnificats, transposing the two
movements but adding nothing. It is tempting to include John Eliot Gardiner (14:5; DVD in 27:1) in a short list, but especially on DVD his effort to dramatize Vespers is wrongheaded. The Mass is an action, with movement and gesture; Vespers and other hours of the Office are simply ritual prayer, marked by little more than standing and kneeling in place. Along with the other positive attributes, Savall’s version is good because it is so well sung. All the original notes are retained, and Savall adds another note dated 2007. The date of death of Monteverdi’s predecessor in Mantua, Giovanni Gastoldi, is still described as “shortly after” 1608, though he lived until 1622. The packaging is even more sumptuous than the original issue. This is still one of the recommendable recordings of this masterpiece.
FANFARE: J. F. Weber
Works on This Recording
Vespro della Beata Vergine by Claudio Monteverdi
Montserrat Figueras (Soprano),
Maria Cristina Kiehr (Soprano),
Livio Picotti (Countertenor),
Paolo Costa (Countertenor),
Daniele Carnovich (Bass),
Roberto Abbondanza (Baritone),
Pietro Spagnoli (Baritone),
Gerd Türk (Tenor),
Gian Paolo Fagotto (Tenor),
Guy de Mey (Tenor),
Paolo Costa (Tenor)
La Capella Reial de Catalunya,
Padua Centre for Ancient Music Chorus
Written: by 1610; Mantua, Italy
Date of Recording: 11/1988
Venue: Santa Barbara Basilica, Mantua, Italy
Length: 95 Minutes 0 Secs.
Be the first to review this title