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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real deal., 13 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Monteverdi: Vespers (Audio CD)
It is worth researching the different versions of the Vespers as there is often some doubt and scholarly dispute over exactly what was performed and in what order. In this version of the vespers the two versions of the Motet and the Missa In Illio tempore are included, which is essentially most of Monteverdi's 1610 publication. No antiphons are included, but personally I do not miss them! But also the duo seraphin are sung, rather than played by violins or organs as it seems to be in some versions (sorry can't remember which ones). Everything is also in the 'correct' order.

Generally the solo singing is excellent, nice, crisp and beautifully sung. In particular the du seraphin, which is a a duet then a trio, is exceptional. The choir is full of energy, and large scale. Overall the drama of the piece is caught. My only quibble is that perhaps the acoustic are too reverberant for the large choir, and the words are definitely lost as in the start of Nsi Dominus, but this does no detract from the drama of the piece.

There is also a generous booklet, with full 'libretto' in latin and english.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Choral Extravaganza, 23 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Monteverdi: Vespers (Audio CD)
My third recorded version of Monteverdi's Vespers and quite possibly the one to take to a desert island. The performances of choir and singers in this two disc set are all sublime and while the set would have stood alone very well with just the Vespers, you do get a bonus in the Magnificat a 6 and the ethereal Missa In illo tempore. Not an inexpensive double disc set it must be said but even at full price, this would be a substantial buy in every way.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monteverdi 1610 Vespers, 10 May 2013
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Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Monteverdi: Vespers (Audio CD)
I confess, I'm a huge fan of Monteverdi. His music just sings to me, in the same way that Giovanni Gabrieli's music calls to me. It speaks directly to the soul. But I don't mean that to sound crazy; Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 soar majestically, lyrically, beautifully. They range from intimate strings, to huge choral voices that you can just imagine echoing around St Marks in Venice, or St Peters in Rome. Vast numbers of expert singers, talented musicians and soaring spaces to take the voices direct to Heaven.

This 1610 publication was produced by Monteverdi while he was choirmaster to Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua. Monteverdi's music of the time was conservative, yet innovative; designed to appeal to the Counter-Reformation papacy and to prove his musical composing abilities. I'd say he succeeded.

Robert King and the King's Consort approach this music with great empathy and learned interpretation as always. I would have to say I always know any cd with these performers is bound to be hugely satisfying to me as a listener. The booklet offers full details of the work, and a full transcription of the lyrics. This music, and this 2-cd set, is as the booklet says "massive, sumptuous". I agree, and I love it. It is never clouded, over-busy or lost in its own grandeur. It is over two hours of near perfection. Guaranteed to give you goosebumps.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've discovered Monteverdi, 18 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Monteverdi: Vespers (Audio CD)
I have started exploring ancient music and I targeted the "1610 Vespers" by looking at other reviews. It's just excellent, ethereal music and very good production. Listening to this led me on to buying, "Monteverdi meets Jazz" making me realise how such brilliant music can lend itself to contemperory rendition as can Bach, for instance.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HIS STATE IS KINGLY, 23 Aug. 2014
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Monteverdi: Vespers (Audio CD)
When I say that I recommend this set cordially, you will of course understand that I am not exhorting anyone to pay any old price for it. Keeping that aspect of the deal within reason, it is still an issue that would grace any musical collection. Robert King’s way of handling ancient music is one that I like greatly. It has some body and warmth to it, he does not try to set speed records, he does not restrict himself to one voice per part, but at the same time he uses proper period instruments and is careful about allowing vibrato into the solo vocal lines.

So far as I know, the performing version that King uses here is faithful to Monteverdi’s own original arrangement from 1610, except that of course the composer would not have given both settings of the Magnificat during one and the same performance of the Vespers. King provides another of his agreeably-written notes on his own idea of such a performing version, and it is almost a pity that he didn’t write the main part of the liner essay, as he often does, (meaning no disrespect to the sound and informative contribution of John Whenham). I know his liner notes mainly from his work on Handel, and I suppose that the subjects treated by that master provide more ‘human interest’, but Robert King’s humane and winning approach extends not only to music more than a century older than Handel but also to academic commentary on it.

Each of the numbers is provided with a synopsis by John Whenham, although as you would expect the text of the Mass calls for less explanation than the various numbers constituting the Vespers do. This Missa in Illo Tempore is in fact a cappella, i.e. in a contrapuntal style like Palestrina’s, the voices unaccompanied although the bass is supported discreetly by the organ. Monteverdi’s idiom is probably rather more grandiose than Palestrina’s, and King and his chorus do a splendid job of maintaining and building a magnificent tone without fatiguing the listener. Elsewhere the idiom is more varied, calling for no fewer than nine vocal soloists together with special choral effects of echo and distance. I am entirely pleased with the way it is all handled, and that is of course a compliment to the technical personnel as well as to the artists. After several listenings I have yet to spot any lapses by either singers or instrumentalists, so I can now take off my fault-finding Beckmesser garb and refocus on not only enjoyment but also study and instruction.

The liner material is given in French and German as well as English in the usual EU manner, the Latin texts being accompanied by English translations only. I compliment the production on the accuracy of the Latin, where there is all of one superfluous comma (after ‘tuos’ in the Dixit Dominus.) In the texts there are a handful of minor quirks, which I shall list here. They have no effect on understanding the relationship of the music to the words, but we might as well get them right:

. Dixit Dominus: ‘ex utero...te’. The meaning is simpler than the translation gives. Take it as ‘I have begotten you out of the womb before the dawn.’
. Dixit Dominus: ‘confregit’. This is past tense ‘smote’. If the translator thought that this verb should be in the future tense like the three verbs following that could well be right, but in that case change the Latin to ‘confringet’.
. Laudate pueri: ‘humilia respicit’ means ‘looks on the things that are lowly’.
. Laetatus sum: The line beginning ‘cuius’ does not make sense. If the text can be trusted as far as ‘eius’ the intended sense seems to be along the lines of ‘whoso has a share in Jerusalem also partakes of <?>’. However the corruption may go deeper, and any translation is guesswork.
. Laetatus sum: The line beginning ‘testimonium’ would be better translated as ‘the testimony of Israel bearing witness to the name of the Lord’.
. Laetatus sum: ‘loquebar pacem de te’ means ‘I spoke peace regarding you’.
. Nisi Dominus: substitute a comma for the colon after ‘filii/sons’. They are the first noun of a little series of three nouns.

One great bonus is the provision of both Monteverdi’s settings of the Magnificat, the second being the simpler 6-part effort, which Whenham suggests (quite plausibly) may have been the basis for the more elaborate 7-parter. Altogether there is little or nothing to find fault with in this production, and I didn’t pay a lot for it.
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the beauty of English Choir, 6 Oct. 2010
By 
E. Pescini (Tintern, Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Monteverdi: Vespers (Audio CD)
There is a very interesting aspect of the energy of an Italian composer whose music is actually performed in England.There are exceptions everywhere, Handel masterpieces started with Rispoli in Tuscany.
I would not see Verdi well performed by Londoners rather than Milanese orchestras.
But Monteverdi is a different thing altogether. And the magnificence of the Vespers lately played this years at the Proms was at the top of my ratings.
Then I remembered how important was Thomas Tallis in his Tudor's days. There is a choir school in UK which I find unbeatable thanks to the genius of Tallis and Monteverdi in this case is at home. I never liked his music until I heard this very cd!
The Italian modern performance either is infected by a bug called Vatican Style the which vibrations drop down to my toes or is to be performed with the typical perfection of the Italian authorities forgetting the spirit, the heart and the passion of Monteverdi in his days. Let's not forget that he had a hard time, like other artists in his days the Vatican had infinite resources and had expectations so dodging was very difficult.
You will never regret to buy this cd because is special, the recording is superb, plenty of emotions.
It is recommended the use of a good stereo equipment obviously but also driving a car can become relaxing.
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