Hyperion’s record of the month for May brings us the monumental Monteverdi Vespers—a perennial bastion of the choral repertory, and the fifth release in The King’s Consort’s acclaimed series: ‘The definitive representation of Monteverdi on disc’ (BBC Music Magazine).
In 1610, disgruntled with his lot as choirmaster to the Duke of Mantua, Monteverdi set about compiling what was to become one of the most significant choral publications in history. At its heart lies the Vespers—a blistering array of virtuosic solo movements and magisterial choruses to texts from which can be assembled music suitable for any Solemn Vespers, whatever the forces available. Many movements offer abridged versions and a complete alternative Magnificat is provided. This performance is of the full work in all its opulent glory, with the addition of the simplified Magnificat and the Missa In illo tempore—a setting of the Mass without which no liturgical publication of the time could have been complete.
And what a recording this turns out to be. As the cornerstone of The King’s Consort’s twenty-fifth anniversary concert series, the Vespers scored a knockout performance at The Sage Gateshead in February this year. Over the following weekend Robert King led the same jubilant forces in the creation of this recording, the fruit of some two-and-a-half decades of research and performance—the glorious result being a rendition cut free from transient artifice and embued with a degree of fully formed confidence that can only spring ‘from the heart’.
A dazzling array of soloists join King—his choir and orchestra on top form—in presenting this new recording of a true masterpiece to the world: a project made possible by the generosity of all the many hundreds of people who donated to Hyperion’s appeal for recording funds in 2005.