Five essential works by Monteverdi

We choose the best works by the great 17th-century composer

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Vespers

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Pomp and splendour are the abiding impressions left by this collection of music, which uses a variety of theatrical effects from its very opening fanfare onwards. 

Recommended recording:
Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh
Archiv 477 6147

Madrigals, Book 5

He became more and more daring in his madrigals, giving increasing importance to the words and their meaning which he underscored with daring dissonances.

Recommended recording:
Concerto Italiano/Rinaldo Alessandrini
Naïve OP 30445

Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda

The first audience of this work – neither quite madrigal nor opera – is said to have been reduced to tears by its expressiveness in depicting the central duel.

Recommended recording:
Rolando Villazón, Patrizia Ciofi; Le Concert d’Astrée/Emmanuelle Haïm
Virgin 363 3502

Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria

Ulysses returns from the Trojan Wars and must prove himself in a contest to win back his wife Penelope. 

Recommended recording:
Christoph Prégardien, Bernarda Fink; Concerto Vocale/René Jacobs
Harmonia Mundi HML 5901427-9

 

Coronation of Poppea

Monteverdi’s last and greatest opera ends with a sensual duet between the immoral Nero and his mistress Poppea.

Recommended recording:
Sylvia McNair, Anne Sofie von Otter; English Baroque Soloists/John Eliot Gardiner
Archiv 447 0882

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