This CD and this year’s performances (Brighton/Edinburgh/Stour/Salisbury/Brecon and three more to be announced) during this Monteverdi 450th anniversary are offered to balance the usual bias in favour of the 1610 Vespers. While ‘1610’ includes the five Vespers psalms suitable to feasts of the Blessed Virgin and other female saints, it does not include a full set for any male saints: these were included in Monteverdi’s 1641 publication, ‘Selva Morale e spirituale’. A choirmaster at the time would have needed both publications and our selection is taken from the latter volume.
Our inspiration is the occasion on June 24th 1620 when Monteverdi was seen by a Dutch visitor directing the Vespers for the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist at a church away from St Mark’s. The psalms chosen and the plainchant is for that feast.
As well as the main Vespers items, the recording includes intriguing extras: improvisatory violin sonata, sensuous Song of Songs motet, and most unusually divisions (ornamentation) based on music by Palestrina and performed by the ravishing soundworld of cornetto muto and four voices.