From its style, this setting of Psalm 126 appears to be one of Monteverdi’s last pieces of church music, and possibly one of his last compositions. It is not found in the Selva morale
but in the posthumous Messa a quattro voci et salmi
, which suggests that it was written between 1641 and 1643. It is mainly constructed over a jaunty walking bass in the manner of a canzonetta, but at the word ‘surgite’ (‘get up’) the onward flow is interrupted by a series of fanfares passing from voice to voice which are themselves contrasted with a series of exquisite dissonances illustrating the word ‘doloris’ (‘misery’). The doxology contains two of Monteverdi’s favourite devices: cascades of ornaments at the word ‘Gloria’ followed by the traditional pun at ‘Sicut erat in principio’.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1981