Claudio Monteverdi - Vespro della Beata Vergine - René Jacobs & Concerto Vocale

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Claudio Monteverdi - Vespro della Beata Vergine - René Jacobs & Concerto Vocale

Claudio Monteverdi - Vespro della Beata Vergine - René Jacobs & Concerto Vocale
Classical, Sacred, Vocal | APE (Single Tracks) dBPoweramp | 2CD/429MB | RS.com

Rene Jacobs presents here what is in many ways an old-fashioned view of the 1610 Vespers. Everything is performed at the same pitch, in fact A=440; he follows the sequence of movements in the original prints except in exchanging the “Ave maris stella” and the “Sancta Maria”; he has a substantial chorus to contrast with his soloists, sometimes changing over between phrases; his orchestra is larger than most; and the only added music is plainsong antiphons performed both before and after each psalm. Some of those decisions are defensible, but it does mean that the main competition for his new recording is in versions over 20 years old – Jurgens and Gardiner.
Jacobs’s novelty is in thinking that when Monteverdi writes for two equal voices with the same clef and matching music it sounds better with singers who sound utterly different from one another. Since several of the performers here are unknown to me, I would prefer not to specify exactly what happens (they are not individually credited in the notes, though the alto Andreas Scholl seems to sing a lot of the soprano lines, and many of the tenor lines sound distinctly baritone, presumably Victor Torres), but those listening to “Pulchra es”, “Duo seraphim” or “Audi coelum” will be able to hear and judge for themselves. One should encourage original and well-considered artistic decisions; but this one I find rather distracting.

The acoustic ambience (again not specified) is nice and rich but suffers from a nasty echo, so notes occasionally jump back at you and a fair amount of the best detail is lost. Even so, it seems that Jacobs sometimes takes tempos that put the faster notes way beyond even the skilled Netherlands Chamber Choir (particularly in “Laetatus sum” and “Nisi Dominus”). The instrumentalists are excellent, with a thick and warm continuo group as well as perhaps the most secure cornetto players I have heard (though it is odd that they embellish like mad while the violins keep doggedly to the written notes).

Jacobs approaches the work with courage, a wide range of tempos and a vivid imagination – features that characterize so much of his finest musicianship. Many sections positively glow. But it remains hard to see how this challenges the grand old recordings of the years around 1970.

David Fallows, Gramophone 12/1996

Album Information
Composer: Claudio Monteverdi
Conductor: René Jacobs
Performer: Nederlands Kamerkoor, Concerto Vocale, Maria Cristina Kiehr, Barbara Borden,
Andreas Scholl, John Bowen, Victor Torres, Andrew Murgatroyd, Antonio Abete, Jelle Draijer
Audio CD (December 17, 1996)
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 2
Label: Harmonia Mundi HMC901566.67
Amazon.com ASIN: B0000007AJ

Tracklist

CD 1
01 - Deus In Adjutorium Listen
02 - Dixit Dominus Listen
03 - Nigra Sum Listen
04 - Laudate Pueri Listen
05 - Pulchra Es Listen
06 - Laetatus Sum Listen
07 - Duo Seraphim Listen
08 - Nisi Dominus Listen
09 - Audi Coelum Listen
10 - Lauda Jerusalem Listen

CD 2
01 - Ave Maris Stella Listen
02 - Sonata A 8 Sopra Sancta Maria Pro Nobis Listen
03 - Magnificat Listen
04 - Et Exultavit Listen
05 - Quia Respexit Listen
06 - Quia Fecit Listen
07 - Et Misericordia Listen
08 - Fecit Potentiam Listen
09 - Deposuit Listen
10 - Esurientes Listen
11 - Suscepit Israel Listen
12 - Sicut Locutus Est Listen
13 - Gloria Patri Listen
14 - Sicut Erat Listen


Claudio Monteverdi - Vespro della Beata Vergine - René Jacobs & Concerto Vocale
René Jacobs, dir.

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