Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine; Magnificat a 7

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Monteverdi
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Vespro della Beata Vergine; Magnificat a 7
PERFORMER: L’Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar
CATALOGUE NO: 641 9942


This exciting recording of the Monteverdi Vespers is probably the fastest ever. The double-choir effects in ‘Laudate Jerusalem’, for example, flicker back and forth like lightning.

Even when the solo singer in ‘Nigra sum’ apparently lingers tenderly over certain effective words, the delicacy of his decorations retain their swiftness. This is altogether a very different from McCreesh’s account (Archiv, 2006) with its obvious time-counting, or Higginbottom’s (Novum, 2010) with its slow, deliberate utterances. 

On the other hand, the style in ‘Pulchra es’ is just too fast and light (given the text). The instrumental playing is excellent, but in the ‘Sicut locutus’ of the Magnificat the accompanying halo of instruments almost drowns out the solo voice. But altogether this is a fine non-liturgical approach on original instruments, with the usual downward transpositions in ‘Lauda Jerusalem’ and the Magnificat.


Its chamber-music textures are comparable to the Petite Bande version under Kuijken (Challenge Classics), which it surpasses, and the Scholars Baroque Ensemble recording (Naxos), which it does not, largely because the balance here is less sophisticated. Anthony Pryer