Monteverdi 's Vespers of 1610 mixes richly-textured polychoral writing with dramatically sophisticated arioso numbers and gorgeous sections of smaller-scale chamber music. It's all designed to heighten the listener's religious sensibilities by appealing to his or her emotions, and (whether one is religious or not) it's hard to resist Monteverdi's luscious soundworld.
Monteverdi's sketchy score presents a mass of riddles as to instrumentation, size of forces, and even key. Conductor Robert Howarth’s solution is to use smallish numbers, and to stick to the composer's original (rather puzzling) demands for low choral voices to sing high in their range and vice versa. That aside, his dramatic instincts are secure, his choices of tempi always lively, and the Choir of the Enlightenment sings with the light freshness and clarity which have now come to be firmly associated with Baroque performances.
This is a worthy addition to the existing clutch of recordings which doesn't quite offer enough standout moments or individuality to replace them.