This composition from several works by Alessandro Grandi has been put together like an intricate, intimate jigsaw puzzle to form a Vesper service. Grandi served under and was heavily influenced by Monteverdi; but he has not emerged from his master's fame to claim his own spotlight. This music, composed a century before J.S. Bach, introduces the music history period known as "early Baroque". Congratulations to Rudolf Ewerhart for fitting together these pieces into a complete work.
Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart performers further enhance the experience of this vesper service. The blue-ribbon biographies of all the soloists--York, Taylor, Lyon, and Harvey--bear witness to the fine skills of these performers. Soprano Deborah York is clear and dignified, secure in each note and phrase. It is striking to have the second part "altus" sung by countertenor Daniel Taylor. Even with recent popularity, the countenor texture has not yet become the preferred voice. All the soloists voices blend together smoothly; Track 9, Nisi Dominus, illustrates this blend , in addition to bringing out the chorus. The Bach Collegium Stuttgart under the baton of harpsichordist Matthew Halls provides the "instrumental partner", as intended, for the choir. However, the orchestra could become more substantial rather than merely a support. Both choir and orchestra carry on the tradition of excellence since their founding by the legendary Helmuth Rilling.
Upon reviewing the English text, the sections of poetry become differentiated. Some texts certainly come from the Song of Solomon, with wording hardly befitting the worship of the Virgin--it is uncomfortable to imagine these presented in a Protestant vesper service. Conversely, certain parts are quite appropriate (Tracks 1, 5, 13, and 14) for a church choir. The concluding Magnificat (Track 14) is impressive. The director of a modern choir could easily select some portions of this collection for a concert to represent this composer and the early Baroque era. Any track would provide an elegant program selection, education for the choir and audience, and wider exposure for the composer Alessandro Grandi.