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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67531/2
Recording details: February 2006
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: May 2006
Total duration: 15 minutes 30 seconds

'Despite having heard four wonderful volumes of Monteverdi's sacred music from The King's Consort, and its 2004 Proms performance of the 1610 Vespers, I was still unprepared for the ecstatic consequences of taking seriously at least one aspect of Monteverdi's so-called seconda-pratica—using much freer counterpoint, with an increasing hierarchy of voices: that the word is mistress of the music. And what ecstasy!' (Gramophone)

'The majesty and contrapuntal wizardy of this fabulous work never fail to astonish and this is a very fine performance, making effective use of the spatial effects that are an integral part of the music's architecture … the choir of the King's Consort sing with virtuosic skill and purity of articulation' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'It is the motets that are the crowning glory, especially James Gilchrist's gorgeously sensuous Nigra sum. His impassioned, full-throated singing, and skillful use of pauses, rubato and sudden pianissimos, turn the piece into a wonderfully spontaneous outpouring of erotic emotion' (The Daily Telegraph)

'This recording richly deserves a sheaf of awards. One for the astonishing speed of the turnaround between recording and release—just a couple of months. A second for bringing us the 1610 collection complete. A third for John Whenham's absolutely enthralling booklet essay. A fourth to all the many hundreds of people who donated to Hyperion's Appeal for Recording Funds in 2005, which made this recording possible. And a final fifth accolade to all the King's men (and women) who singly and severally know Monteverdi well enough not to have to over-sell him to unlock the music's magnificence' (International Record Review)

'Wonderful music; wonderful performances. Justice has been done to Monteverdi' (The Times)

'Any survey of the sheerly magnificent on CD over the past year will have to begin with Robert King's astounding new account of the Monteverdi Vespers on Hyperion, which is quite the most wonderful noise to come my way in years … solo and choral singing and the instrumental playing all attain the exceptional quality one has long come to expect with the conductor … unquestionably a major addition to the Vespers discography' (Fanfare, USA)

'Added to the 'list of things to do before you die' should be 'hearing Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers in as good a recording as you can find'. This Monteverdi is truly mind-blowing. Vespers virgins need seek no further, and serious collectors are advised not to ignore what may prove to be more than one reviewer's 'disc of the year'' (MusicWeb International)

'I can only join the label in saying 'thank you' to the many contributors who sent in funds, and I urge listeners everywhere to help the investment pay off by purchasing this set without delay. It's gorgeous and you'll love it, even if you already own other versions of this extraordinary work' (

'Même en ayant d'autres (bonnes) versions en mémoire, celle-ci se situe parmi les toutes meilleures' (, France)

Magnificat a 6
author of text
Luke 1: 46-55

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Monteverdi provided a second setting of the Magnificat, for six voices and organ only, to be used on those occasions when the large array of obbligato instruments called for in the seven-part setting were not available. In fact, the 1610 partbooks allow the possibility for all the essential items of a Vespers service to be performed with organ alone: thus, in addition to this Magnificat, Monteverdi provides a simple chanted version of Deus in adiutorium and marks the instrumental ritornellos of Dixit Dominus as optional; the ritornellos for the hymn Ave maris stella, too, can be omitted.

One easily audible difference between the seven-part setting of the Magnificat and the six-part one, from which it was probably developed, is that in the former Monteverdi omits one pitch from the second part of the plainsong (listen to the endings of verse 1 of each setting). This small change, together with differences in the patterning of the bass, has the effect of making this verse in the larger setting seem more sharply focused than its model. Similarly, in the three-part settings of ‘Et exultavit’, the leisurely triple-time of the six-part setting becomes a more lively and virtuosic duple-time setting in the version for seven voices. Elsewhere, however, and particularly in those movements in which obbligato instruments are employed, the seven-part setting is an altogether larger and grander conception. Almost all the verses in the seven-part version draw on those of the smaller setting. The exceptions are the verse ‘Suscepit Israel’ and the opening of the ‘Gloria Patri’. The two settings are also linked in that both include detailed indications of the organ stops to be used.

from notes by John Whenham © 2006

Other albums featuring this work
'Monteverdi: Vespers' (SACDA67531/2)
Monteverdi: Vespers
This album is not yet available for download SACDA67531/2  2CDs Super-Audio CD — Deleted  
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