From Venice (to Rome), with love
Director - Robert Hollingworth
Benevoli - Missa Maria Prodigio Celeste - for 4 choirs
Monteverdi - Selected motets/psalms from 1610 Vespers
Carissimi - Jephte
In the 1640s Monteverdi, maestro at St.Mark’s Venice, was at the end of his life, master of the late 16th century multi-choir style - while also producing intimate modern miniatures for solo voices. Both these styles were copied all over Europe including Rome, where Orazio Benevoli produced outsize masses for four separated choirs, perhaps to be sung around the huge central altar space of Michelangelo’s recently finished St Peter’s basilica.
This sumptuous programme features such a four-choir Mass (just recorded by I Fagiolini) with choirs tossing their phrases from one to another, climaxing in magnificent tuttis: true surround sound.
Benevoli’s contemporary Carissimi is famous for his part in establishing oratorio. His finest (just 22 minutes long) tells the heart-rending Old Testament tale of Jephthah and his daughter - with echo effects, a battle chorus and one of the finest and most plangent 'final choruses' of the entire 17th century.
Around this music, Monteverdi’s finest sacred solo works to provide intimacy around the grandeur.
Photos Monika S Jakubowska, from I Fagiolini's performance at King's Place, London.