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on 11 July 2012
Recorded in 1966 this is a ground-breaking and much heralded first recording by Michel Corboz and his still-active Ensemble Vocal et Instrumental de Lausanne for Erato. They use a mix of cornetti and otherwise modern instruments. The quality of the performance is undeniably high, the soloists excellent, and the overall sense of a `questing spirit' still compelling. Especially interesting is the highly inventive organ continuo playing from none other than a young Guy Bovet. Of course the problems encountered when performing `Vespers' today are considered within a very different set of parameters than in 1966, especially as regards issues such as temperament, forces (here the choir seems rather large, the continuo group rather small), playing and singing techniques (for example application of vibrato by both singers and string players, and especially vocal ornamentation), tempi, (and more especially tempo relationships where the meter changes), rhythmic drive etc. To judge this recording by today's standards of course is a pointless exercise but to my ear the rather woolly sound and lack of focus render this an interesting study in the performance practices of forty years ago rather than a recording likely to grab the first-time listener.

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