Jeannette Sorrell / Apollo's Fire

Claudio Monteverdi: Vespers of 1610

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In honor of the 400th anniversary of the publication of Monteverdi's Vespro della beata Vergine, in 2010 Avie reissued the 1999 recording by the exemplary Cleveland-based Baroque orchestra, Apollo's Fire, founded and conducted by Jeannette Sorrell. Even more than most scores of the early Baroque, this 90-minute piece is fraught with textual ambiguities, and the success of a performance can depend on the conductor's editorial as well as interpretive skills. Sorrell explains her rationale about just what to include and how the parts fit together in the concise, informative program notes, but it's the vitality and integrality of the performance itself that are entirely persuasive. The music moves forward with the kind of dramatic logic Monteverdi exercised in Orfeo, and Sorrell gives the performance a compelling through line that feels inevitable and completely natural, and at the same time is full of delightful and unpredictable turns. Her forces, the orchestra Apollo's Fire and the small chorus Apollo's Singers, deliver impeccable performances that are also spirited and spontaneous sounding. The soloists are not international stars, but they sing with purity, excellent tone, formidable technique, and a sure grasp of period ornamentation. Tenor Ian Honeyman stands out; his seamless passage into and out of head voice is breathtaking in the motet "Nigra sum." The sound of the recording is clean and clear, with a good sense of balance and separation and a vivid presence.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Vespro della Beata Vergine
1 4:42
2 3:55
3 0:47
4 4:06
5 6:52
6 7:45
7 1:03
8 0:50
9 1:18
10 1:32
11 1:12
12 2:01
13 1:01
14 2:25
15 1:30
16 1:16
17 1:01
18 2:19
19 2:21
blue highlight denotes track pick