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Hyperion Records

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Angel playing a rebec (c1500). A linden-wood sculpture statuette, South German
Reproduced by courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Collections, New York
Track(s) taken from CDH55345
Recording details: February 1981
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Martin Compton
Engineered by Tony Faulkner
Release date: April 1985
Total duration: 2 minutes 40 seconds

'There are few records of Monteverdi's solo vocal music as persuasive as this … superb' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

'Wonderful. Performed with the vigour, intelligence and sense of sheer enjoyment of the music that one would expect from this group of artists' (International Record Review)

'One of the most beautiful records I have heard this year' (The Guardian)

'Music of exhilarating inspiration, superbly performed. A recording as near as may be to the ideal … a very remarkable recording indeed. For audiophile and music-lovers, this is essential' (Hi-Fi News)

'If you don't already own this joyous disc … add it to your collection without delay. It will repay the outlay a hundred times' (Goldberg)

'Emma Kirkby is at her bewitching best' (

Iste confessor Domini sacratus, SV279
Himnus comune confessorum; setting II; from Selva morale e spirituale (1640/1641)
author of text
? in honour of St Martin of Tours

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
A hymn in flowing triple time, also found set to Sanctorum meritis and Deus tuorum militum in the Selva morale. The same gently modulating harmonies serve for both string ritornelli and verses, and could be thought of as a ground bass if the setting were any longer. At least one composer after Monteverdi did think of it as a ground bass: the Veronese Antonio Bertali who worked in Vienna borrowed it and part of Monteverdi’s tune for a set of variations in a sonata for two violins, bassoon and continuo. A curious feature of Monteverdi’s piece is the high pitch of the parts, particularly of the continuo. It is possible that the music should be heard a fourth lower sung by a bass, but we decided to record it at written pitch using a tenor as the Renaissance transposition conventions were becoming obsolete by the end of Monteverdi’s career, and the music has an attractive squeaky sonority when performed at the high pitch, which may be a deliberate effect. We used a bass viol to play the continuo instead of the cello as several contemporary Italian sources suggest its use for high-pitched bass lines.

from notes by Peter Holman © 1981

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