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Monteverdi: Sacred Music / Parrott, Taverner Consort


Release Date: 09/22/2009 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 66965   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Claudio MonteverdiAnonymousGirolamo FantiniGiuseppe Scarani,   ... 
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

In August 1613 the Procurators of St Mark’s Cathedral in Venice awarded the prize post of maestro di cappella to Claudio Monteverdi. There is no evidence that Monteverdi had even been considered for that job only four years earlier in 1609, the last time it had become vacant. His reputation then rested on five books of madrigals (so far) and two recent forays into the new world of all-sung drama – Orfeo and Arianna. As yet, no music for the church. But in 1610 Monteverdi presented to the world a collection of music both for the Mass and for Vespers, of a range and quality that immediately marked him out as the supreme exponent of any compositional style you might care to name. The Mass setting was not just ‘old style’ but positively Read more archaic, working ten themes from Gombert’s motet In illo tempore in an austere display of academic counterpoint. The five Vespers psalms for Marian feasts were modern in style, yet permeated throughout by that most ancient form of musical expression, plainchant. The two (alternative) versions of the Magnificat displayed a similar mix of old and new, including elements borrowed from the operatic stage. In addition, there were some sacred songs in a highly expressive style of arioso that recalls Orfeo.

Taking the 1610 Vespers as a complete collection, it is simple enough to perform the items one after another, just as they appear in the original publication: psalms alternate with concerti (as the sacred songs are called), and at the end come the hymn Ave maris stella and the two Magnificats. But this recording by Andrew Parrott (CDs 1 and 2) took a different starting point. Monteverdi wrote this music for a Marian Vespers, and it makes sense to hear it in its liturgical context. Hence the inclusion of an appropriate plainchant antiphon before each psalm, and other pieces of chant where required by the liturgy. According to the strict letter of the liturgy, an exact repeat of the antiphon should have followed each psalm, but it was common practice to replace these repeats with other pieces for added musical interest, and three concerti and two instrumental sonatas by Giovanni Paolo Cima perform that function here. Only one Magnificat is required, and the obvious choice is to use the grander of the two versions, which adds the richness of violins and cornetts to the sonority. Andrew Parrott was the first conductor to confront, and eventually solve, the problem posed by the Magnificat and the Lauda Jerusalem, which appear to be set much higher than the other pieces in the Vespers. The voices and instruments, for no apparent reason, are written within a different range. This had always struck Parrott as odd, and further inquiry uncovered the reason. It is the notation of these particular pieces, using a different set of clefs for the voices, that has caused confusion to later generations. Read correctly, and following a convention that was well understood at the time, the music is actually sung and played a fourth (almost half an octave) below written pitch. The arguments are arcane but unanswerable. Clearly, this makes a huge difference. Before Parrott’s example, fully a quarter of the Vespers was always performed at the higher pitch. There are still conductors (and listeners) who prefer it like that and enjoy the resulting stratospheric scramble. But though the high singing may offer some sort of excitement, this is a poor exchange for losing the humanity and warmth these pieces originally possessed. In the psalm settings there are passages reflecting a conventional religious solemnity. At other times the music can be extrovert and dramatic. The solos, duets and trios are intimate, even seductive in their expression. Such variety asks much of the singers. Parrott’s team were mostly young, but were already fully at their ease in the style of this period. Nigel Rogers was of a slightly older generation and not a member of the Taverner Consort; he plays no part in any of the five psalms, and remains silent all through the Magnificat except for the Gloria at the end, yet it is his ravishing singing that sets the standard for everyone else. In his showpiece appearances – the solo Nigra sum, the echo duet Audi coelum and the trio Duo seraphim – each phrase is warmed into life with irresistible immediacy of expression. In singing of this kind we have a powerful sense of that urge towards a dramatising and sensualising of religious experience which characterised the early Baroque period.

Whereas the Vespers recording is a generic reconstruction, the Mass of Thanksgiving (CDs 3 and 4) is absolutely specific. It aims to recreate one of the grandest ceremonies that ever took place in St Mark’s, the celebration of a Mass on 21 November 1631, the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when thanks were given for the deliverance of Venice from the plague. Some details of the service are known from a contemporary description, others can be seen as intelligent guesswork based on knowledge of regular Venetian practice. So, for instance, it was quite normal on special occasions to keep certain movements of the Ordinary of the Mass (Kyrie, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) short and simple, to allow time for extra-liturgical works to be inserted. Here the Gradual is replaced by an instrumental sonata, and instruments also play at the Elevation of the blessed host and at the Communion. Two vocal ‘extras’ also add to the sense of occasion: Ab aeterno ordinata sum, a remarkable bass solo spanning an unusually wide range, and at the end of the service an echo piece for two tenors, which interweaves Salve regina with words from the poem Audi coelum. Both these pieces were published in Monteverdi’s Selva morale e spirituale of 1641. It has been plausibly argued that this large anthology of his church music contains most of the vocal pieces that were performed at that thanksgiving service in 1631. The shorter Mass movements are in plain, old-style polyphony, but the Gloria is a grand concertato display piece for seven voices with instruments, including trumpets – a highly unusual feature at this period during the actual liturgy. The usual function of trumpets was to play during processions and to announce entrances, and they could offer further excitement and drama in the instrumental interludes. Indeed, this recording gives a wonderful picture of the sheer noise and splendour that accompanied grand ceremonial occasions. The Doge and the Signoria of Venice had gone in procession to St Mark’s not only to worship but to make a public affirmation of the city’s power and self-confidence. The whole event was unashamedly theatrical, intended to inspire devotion, pride and enjoyment in roughly equal measures. The Selva morale e spirituale seems to be a compendium of Monteverdi’s production for St Mark’s, and in addition to the Mass of Thanksgiving a number of possible services can be drawn from it.

One other example is presented here (CD 4), and includes the musical items suitable for a Vespers service on the feast of Saint Theodore, the earliest patron saint of Venice. There are the customary five psalms, varying in complexity from the elaborate concertato style of Dixit Dominus to the simpler economy of Laudate pueri. Echoes of secular styles are evident throughout, and Beatus vir is actually a re-working of a duet in Book 7 of Monteverdi’s madrigals. A full panoply of vocal styles is paraded in the Magnificat, one of Monteverdi’s most expansive compositions. The eighth and final book of madrigals, published in 1638, has a similarly retrospective feel, this time in the field of secular music. It contains pieces written over some thirty years in a variety of styles. The selection offered here (CD 5) includes the highly dissonant Lamento della ninfa, in which a soprano laments over a ground bass against a background of three male voices. A more traditional style of madrigal is recalled in the realistic word painting of Altri canti d’Amor, but a new style of string playing has also made its appearance – the stile concitato or ‘agitated style’ invented by Monteverdi to imitate warlike attitudes.
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Works on This Recording

1.
Vespro della Beata Vergine by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1610; Mantua, Italy 
2.
Introit by Anonymous
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Medieval 
3.
Sonata Imperiale II: Intrada by Girolamo Fantini
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1638; Italy 
4.
Selva morale e spirituale: Ab aeterno ordinato sum by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
5.
Elevation by Giuseppe Scarani
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
6.
Vespro della Beata Vergine: Audi coelum by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1610; Mantua, Italy 
7.
Recessional by Girolamo Fantini
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
8.
Credo by Giovanni Rovetta
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
9.
Selva morale e spirituale: Salve regina by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
10.
Selva morale e spirituale: Agnus Dei a 4 by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
11.
Ite missa est by Anonymous
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Medieval 
12.
Selva morale e spirituale: Kyrie a 4 by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
13.
Selva morale e spirituale: Gloria in excelsis Deo a 7 by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
14.
Selva morale e spirituale: Et resurrexit by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
15.
Sonate, symphonie e retornelli, Op. 8: Canzon quarta by Biagio Marini
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
16.
Sonata à 8 by Francesco Usper
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: Venice, Italy 
17.
Selva morale e spirituale: Dixit Dominus II by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
18.
Selva morale e spirituale: Confitebor tibi Domine a 3 by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
19.
Selva morale e spirituale: Beatus vir a 6 by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
20.
Selva morale e spirituale: Laudate pueri a 5 I "concertato" by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
21.
Selva morale e spirituale: Laudate Dominum a 5 by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
22.
Selva morale e spirituale: Deus tuorum militum a 3 by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
23.
Selva morale e spirituale: Magnificat a 8 in G minor by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
24.
Selva morale e spirituale: Jubilet tota civitas by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
25.
Selva morale e spirituale: Salve regina a 3 by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1640; Italy 
26.
Madrigals, Book 8: Movete al mio bel suon by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1638; Italy 
27.
Madrigals, Book 8: Non havea Febo "Lamento della ninfa" by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1638; Italy 
28.
Madrigals, Book 8: Chi vol haver felice by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1638; Italy 
29.
Madrigals, Book 8: Altri canti d'amor by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1638; Italy 
30.
Madrigals, Book 8: Altri canti di Marte by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1638; Italy 
31.
Madrigals, Book 8: Gira il nemico insidioso amore by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1638; Italy 
32.
Madrigals, Book 8: Hor ch'el ciel e la terra by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1638; Italy 
33.
Madrigals, Book 8: Su su, su pastorelli vezzosi by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1638; Italy 
34.
Madrigals, Book 8: Vago augelletto by Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor:  Andrew Parrott
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Taverner Consort
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1638; Italy 

Featured Sound Samples

Selva morale e spirituale (Monteverdi): Kyrie a 4
Madrigals, Book 8 (Monteverdi): Volgendo il ciel... Movete al mio bel suon "Introdutione e Ballo"

Sound Samples

Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Responsorium - Domine ad adiuvandum me festina
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Psalmus I - Psalmus 109:Dixit Dominus
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Concerto - nigra sum
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Antiphona II (Canto gregoriano) Maria Virgo assumpta est
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Psalmus II - Psalmus 112:Laudate pueri
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Concerto - Pulchra es
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Antiphona III (Canto gregoriano) In odorem unguentorum tuorum currimus
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Psalmus III - Psalmus 121:Laetatus sum
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Sonata a 2 per violine e violone (Giovanni Paolo Cima)
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Antiphona IV (Canto gregoriano) Benedicta filia tua Domino
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Psalmus IV - Psalmus 126:Nisi Dominus
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Concerto - Audi coelum
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Antiphona V (Canto gregoriano) Pulchra es et decora, filia Hierusalem
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Psalmus V - Psalmus 147:Lauda Jerusalem Dominum
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Sonata 1 3 per violino, cornetto e violone (Giovanni Paolo Cima)
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Capitulum (Canto gregoriano) - In omnibus requeim quaesivi
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Hymnus - Ave maris stella
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Versus et responsorium (Canto gregoriano) - Exaltata est sancta Dei Genitrix
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Antiphona VI (Canto gregoriano) - Hodie Maria Virgo caelos ascendit
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Magnificat
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Sonata sopra Sancta Maria
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Oratio (Canto gregoriano) - Dominus vobiscum
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Concerto - Duo Seraphim
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Antiphona Beatae Mariae Virginis - Salve Regine
Vespro della beata Vergine (1610): Oratio (Canto gregoriano) - Domine vobiscum

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