The Sixteen conducted by Harry Christophers perform works by Monteverdi and Cavalli

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Cavalli,Monteverdi
ALBUM TITLE: Monteverdi * Cavalli
WORKS: Messa a quattro voci et salmi of 1650; Dixit Dominus (Primo) a 8; Confitebor tibi Domine (Secondo); Lauda Jerusalem; Laetatus sum; Nisi Dominus; Laudate pueri; Laetaniae della Beata Vergine; Beatus vir; Magnificat
PERFORMER: The Sixteen/Harry Christophers


In 1650, seven years after Monteverdi’s death, the Venetian publisher Alessandro Vincenti produced a volume collecting together a Mass and some psalm settings by the composer, most of which had not been published before. He was probably aided in this venture by the composer’s successor at St Mark’s, Francesco Cavalli, whose Magnificat setting was also included, thus providing settings of all the central items for Vespers services. The collection has been recorded only rarely (by Michel Corboz in the 1960s and Raffaello Monterósso in the 1990s) which is a pity since these attractive performances show just how accomplished Monteverdi’s ‘stray’ compositions can be. The Mass for Four Voices of the title will presumably appear in the forthcoming second volume of the recording.

As always with The Sixteen we get superb tuning, balanced ensemble work and a lively pace – as evidenced by the fluency of the transitions from duple to triple time in Confitebor and the nimble choral singing of the rapid passages in Lauda Jerusalem. It is good too to hear the stylish decoration provided by the solo singers in Nisi Dominus. Less happy are the rather mechanical performances of Laetatus sum and Laudate pueri, works whose heavily contrapuntal textures lack shape and direction here, and in the case of the latter its brightness has been drained away by the downward transposition. That said, the captivating splendour of the opening and closing tracks (Dixit Dominus and Beatus Vir) give us an enticing glimpse of what we can expect from Volume 2.


Anthony Pryer