Monteverdi Vespers

MICHAEL DRAKE Blythburgh Church (Aldeburgh Festival)


Blythburgh Church (Aldeburgh Festival)

This concert came from another world for it was nearly 400 years ago that Monteverdi Vespers - Vespro della Beata Virgine - first appeared in Venice. And the 10 brilliant voices of the ExCathedra choir plus instrumentalists of the Baroque Ensemble with the splendidly titled His Majesty's Sagbutts Cornetts conducted by Jeffrey Skidmore, gave a collectively memorable performance on Tuesday evening.

From every corner of the church, the audience was appreciative of the skills, sounds and emotional content of this extraordinary music - with some minor mumbles that the choir was largely swamped by instruments in the opening verses, occasionally top voices were a little unbalanced and individual voices too dominant.

Not all the sections are based on psalms - powerful and declamatory, the solo tenor's fervour was put into “Nigra sum” which comes from the Song of Songs, as did the beautifully poised soprano duet Pulchra es, preceding an exquisite “Amen” chorus.

Anyone from 1610 onwards would have been moved by this music, not least by the final, magnificent Magnifcat.

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