Claudio Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine of 1610 is regarded as his greatest achievement in sacred choral music and a monument of the early Baroque era. Yet several of his smaller psalm settings could have been fashioned into a comparable large-scale work, perhaps for use on non-Marian feast days, following the practices of maestri di cappella and choirs in Venice at the time. Monteverdi: The Other Vespers, a 2017 album on Decca, is a combination of psalms from Monteverdi's Selva morale e spirituale of 1647 with works by his near contemporaries, thus forming a hybrid Vespers. Using seven motets by Monteverdi, which are interspersed with Gregorian chants and compositions by Lodovico Viadana, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (his Ave Verum Corpus was later embellished by Giovanni Battista Bovicelli), Ignazio Donati, Dario Castello, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Giovanni Gabrieli, and Francesco Usper, the assembled artists demonstrate the practicalities of providing appropriate music for Vespers, as well as the flexibility with which music was generally employed for ecclesiastical needs. Robert Hollingworth and I Fagiolini, the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble, and The 24 of the University of York have created a striking tribute for the occasion of Monteverdi's 450th anniversary, and while this album shouldn't be regarded as a re-creation of any particular historical event or known performance, it certainly sets a compelling scene that Monteverdi and his peers would have recognized. Decca's recording in St. George's Church in Chesterton, Cambridge is wonderfully alive and resonant, and somewhat reminiscent of the glorious acoustics of Venice's San Marco.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Versicle & Response: Iste puer magnus coram Domino; Magnificat Antiphon: Puer qui natus est nobis, plus quam propheta est