Monteverdi: Selva morale e spirituale, Vol. 2
This great collection of Monteverdi’s sacred music was published in 1641 towards the end of his life. It contains 37 works and this is the second CD from The Sixteen devoted to its contents. The first came out two years ago (reviewed Christmas 2010), and the third volume is expected next year. The works are not recorded in printed order, but rather arranged for ‘concert impact’ beginning with the rousing Laudate Dominum III, and ending with the joyful setting of Psalm 110, Dixit Dominus I.
And there is much variety and interest – the delightful solo singing (by Grace Davidson) in Sanctorum meritis II, the fine chromatic tuning of the choir in the Crucifixus, the tasteful violin decorations in Deus tuorum II, the reverent tone in the Agnus Dei (from Messa a 4 voci), and the ingenious accompaniments in Jubilet tota civitas.
The nearest rival is the superb recording of the Selva collection by Konrad Junghänel on Harmonia Mundi, though alas not currently available. On the present CD the bass sound occasionally booms, and the time changes between sections of a work can be a little clunky, but the overall effect is lyrical, musical, intelligent and poised.