Monteverdi: Salve morale e spirituale, Vol. 3
This is the final volume of Harry Christophers’ recordings of Monteverdi’s large collection of sacred music published in 1641. The three volumes do not quite contain all of the works (the hymn Ut queant laxis and the sacred madrigal Spuntava are missing), but then it is impossible to get everything on just three discs – the Junghänel version (on Harmonia Mundi) has one or two works missing, as does the La Venexiana recording (Glossa).
As we might expect, The Sixteen performances are lively and nicely tuned; the Confitebor II and the Laudate pueri II are particularly spirited and alert. Elsewhere (Salve Regina III and Credidi propter) the beat is rather free, as are the relative speeds between sections. Just occasionally (Magnificat II), the speed is uncomfortably fast. Throughout, the instrumental playing is sensitive and supportive, though in the Pianto della Madonna (a Latin version of Arianna’s Lament), Grace Davidson’s delicate but assured dramatic singing is unnecessarily interrupted at various points by an implanted Sinfonia from Monteverdi’s opera Il ritorno d’Ulisse. These are good performances, but the Junghänel ones seem better balanced.