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Featured Album November 2023: Pygmalion "Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine"

Featured Album November 2023: Pygmalion "Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine"

Another new release for this month's featured album: during November we're delighted to introduce the new recording of Monteverdi's iconic Vespro della Beata Vergine (Vespers of the Blessed Virgin) by Pygmalion under the direction of Raphael Pichon. This cornerstone of early 17th Century repertoire, dated 1610, has been committed to disc many times over the years, but this new recording is of exceptional quality and the experience and passion driven from Pichon's baton makes it a must-listen. Housed in a deluxe 2CD box set with an extensive 76-page booklet, this is a deserved featured album!

Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine


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From the artist's press release…

After ‘Stravaganza d’amore’, their superb album of late sixteenth-century Florentine music, Raphaël Pichon and Pygmalion return to Italy, this time to Mantua. Here they offer us their reading of one of the peaks of sacred music from this period: Monteverdi’s Vespers. Revealing like no other interpreters the poignant interiority of these pieces, they bring out to the full their inherent sense of theatre. An overwhelming experience.


Why The Early Music Shop loves "Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine":

Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers is one of the peaks of sacred choral music from the early seventeenth century and a jewel from the composer’s Mantuan period (1590–1612) when he was in the service of the Gonzago court, where Duke Vincenzo indulged to the full his passion for music. It still comes as something of a surprise that no contemporary record of any occasion on which the Vespers was given exists, though various, ultimately inconclusive, arguments have been proposed to suggest why Monteverdi compiled the sequence. But whatever its origins, the 1610 Vespers is a remarkable feat of composition, bringing together in a single span two main types of composition: contrapuntal polyphony (the 5 psalm settings, Avis Maris Stella and two settings of the Magnificat); and concerti sacri (the solo motets) in which Monteverdi exploits the then new style which gave him greater scope to responding to the meaning of the words.

Pichon and Pygmalion have been engaged with Monteverdi’s masterpiece for around a decade – ‘It’s part of our DNA as a group,’ he remarked in a recent interview – and they have performed it many times, including a memorable account at the 2017 BBC Proms. As Pichon would be the first to admit, the piece is a web of choices and possibilities – indeed, that’s the endless fascination of the work. This recording represents the fruits of this decade of performing the Vespers – basically, a snapshot of his current response to the piece. The musical values are of the highest possible standard, with virtuoso ensemble and solo singing, pungent instrumental contributions and, above all, a real sense of drama.


Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine is available from The Early Music Shop - buy online or in our Snape Maltings showroom now!

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