La Tempête / Simon-Pierre Bestion

Monteverdi: Vespro

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There's a new gang of Monteverdi interpreters on the block, and they're scarily good. The young French ensemble La Tempête and conductor Simon-Pierre Bestion offer an uncannily vivid reading of Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine, SV 206, the so-called "Vespers of 1610." Bestion starts from the fact that the Vespers were, even more than the opera Orfeo that preceded it by three years, a virtuoso compositional display of all the techniques in the air in the fast-changing scene of the early 17th century. It has florid monody; it has madrigal-like passages; it has Venetian polychoral styles; it has an impressive instrumental sonata; it has old-style polyphony rooted in chant, which ties the whole thing together. The work is a stunning example of unity in diversity, and that unity stands up to the diversity Bestion emphasizes: each type of music is given its own distinctive interpretation. The choral passages, with a folklike full-throated quality, may be the most different from what you've heard in earlier readings of the Vespers (sample the "Lauda Jerusalem"), but everywhere Bestion exhorts his singers and players to unusual timbres; he has selected them from among a variety of backgrounds and has used his choices well. The one place listeners may pause is at the addition of folk "faux-bourdon" (Italian: falsobordone) settings of some of the texts, placed next to Monteverdi's settings. This fluffs the work up to more than two hours in length and, one might argue, disturbs Monteverdi's delicate balances. The faux-bourdons are also, however, thrilling to listen to, and strict adherence to the musical text has often proven to be a bad idea when it comes to Monteverdi. So pay your money and take your choice: this is a major new Monteverdi Vespers.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Vespro Della Beata Vergine, SV 206
1 01:30 Amazon
2 03:07 Amazon
3 01:31 Amazon
4 05:03 Amazon
5 09:06 Amazon
6 03:59 Amazon
7 02:37 Amazon
8 04:08 Amazon
9 07:43 Amazon
10 03:56 Amazon
11 02:00 Amazon
12 05:25 Amazon
13 08:24 Amazon
14 07:02 Amazon
15 02:48 Amazon
16 03:59 Amazon
17 04:49 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Vespro Della Beata Vergine, SV 206
1 03:00 Amazon
2 08:24 Amazon
3 02:16 Amazon
4 05:10 Amazon
5 04:39 Amazon
6 00:42 Amazon
7 06:43 Amazon
8 10:52 Amazon
9 01:00 Amazon
10 01:18 Amazon
11 02:09 Amazon
12 01:08 Amazon
13 02:51 Amazon
14 00:57 Amazon
15 02:53 Amazon
16 01:49 Amazon
17 01:34 Amazon
18 00:53 Amazon
19 03:38 Amazon
20 02:40 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick