1612: Italian Vespers

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: I Fagiolini
ALBUM TITLE: 1612: Italian Vespers
WORKS: Second vespers of the feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary: Viadana: Deus, in adiutorium meum; O dulcissima Maria; Lauda, Ierusalem; Barbarino: Exaudi Deus; Palestrina: Quae esr ista; Monteverdi: Ab aeterno ordinata sum; Giovanni Gabriele: Benedictus Dominus Deus Sabaoth; Magnificat a 20/28 (reconstructed Keyte); etc
PERFORMER: I Fagiolini/Robert Hollingworth


This is another enterprising disc from I Fagiolini following their recording of Striggio’s 40-part Mass – reconstructed by Hugh Keyte – last year, reviewed in April. The centerpiece here is another reconstruction by Keyte, this time of the monumental Magnificat by Giovanni Gabrieli for up to 28 voices. The date 1612 was chosen because that allows us neatly to celebrate this year both the 400th anniversary of the death of Giovanni Gabrieli, and the publication of Viadana’s psalms composed for four choirs in the ground-breaking ‘concertato’ style – comprising voices, instruments and basso continuo. And an even better, third reason is that these works represent the state of Italian church music just before Monteverdi was appointed to St Mark’s, Venice in 1613, after being fired from Mantua. This disc also provides a taster for I Fagiolini’s Prom concert in August, containing much of this material.

As we might expect from this group, the best performances come in those pieces requiring spacious grandeur and a generalised awesome sound – the works by Viadana particularly benefit here, as Gabrieli’s famous In ecclesiis on the last track. The reconstructed Gabrieli Magnificat, commemorating the battle of Lepanto of 1571, part of the Ottoman-Venetian war, seems to have been provided with some loud bangs reminiscent of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. There’s fine soprano singing in Laetatus sum by Viadana, and a lovely cornett instrumental introduction to Barbarino’s Exaudi Deus. But whenever the vocal ensemble sings without instrumental support (as in Palestrina’s Quae est ista), problems of tuning and ensemble arise.


Anthony Pryer