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Monteverdi's Vespers

OAE and Choir of the Enlightenment/Robert Howarth

Signum Classics/OAE Released SIGCD 237
[recd live Kings Place, London August 2010]

This is the latest of very many Vespers. It is well recorded at London's newest major concert hall, in the modern complex near King's Cross which houses The Guardian and the Observer, and is the base of the OAE.

As with most earlier recordings, scholarship is brought to bear, as the original score is rudimentary. We will not enter into that debate.

It sounds splendid, as indeed do most of the others, but lacks the church acoustic which is more usual. Recently we have greatly enjoyed a smallish-scale performance of it by Harry Christopher & The Sixteen at the City of London's Temple Church, where full use was made of the unique setting.

For recordings, this is a work where video wins, and we have admired filmed versions from St. Lorenzo Cathedral, Lugano and John Eliot Gardiner's DVD from St Mark's, Venice (maybe still many people's preference - see several ***** reviews).

This new OAE version is well prepared and documented, with all participants named and those of the soloists also on the listing of the texts.

For reasons unexplained there is an "extra", an "antiphon substitute" by Fontana, a gorgeous violin solo for Alison Bury, leader of the OAE at this performance. No excuse needed; was it given as an encore at the concert?

Peter Grahame Woolf