No fewer than six settings of Psalm 110 by Monteverdi have survived. The three included on this disc are quite different and demonstrate that Monteverdi was more interested in using the framework of the Psalm to explore different formal schemes than in characterizing the meaning of individual words. This one, the second of three in the Selva morale
, is almost entirely in the flowing triple time associated with Venetian opera, and is built on a long modulating ground bass. Monteverdi treats it fairly freely and marks off each statement with a short passage of duple time. Such experiments with ground-bass techniques were very much in the air in the 1630s.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1981