This curious piece is a reworking of sections from the madrigals Dolcissimo uscignolo
and Chi vol haver felice
from Monteverdi’s Eighth Book of 1638. Both madrigals are in the French style, which means that they imitate the syllabic word-setting with the fluctuating pulse of the French vers mesuré
tradition. The Psalm is really written for soprano solo, choir and continuo but, as Monteverdi explains in a note, it can be performed with ‘four violin family instruments, leaving the soprano part to a solo voice’. At the ‘Gloria Patri’ the restraint of the French style is suddenly cast aside in an impassioned burst of virtuosity from the soprano, returning to sobriety at ‘Sicut erat in principio’, when the opening music is heard—a kind of musical pun.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1981