Recorded live in 2010 for the 400th anniversary of Claudio Monteverdi's Vespers of the Blessed Virgin, 1610, this is a fitting tribute to one of the early masterpieces of Baroque music. Capably performed on period instruments by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, directed by Robert Howarth, and sung with fluidity and light tone by the Choir of the Enlightenment, this historically informed reading offers a mixture of grand sacred drama and quiet reflection, reflecting both Monteverdi's ecstatic choral writing and his florid solo vocal parts, which are as impassioned as his operatic arias. The diversity of styles and expressions in this work makes it an ideal vehicle for an early music ensemble to demonstrate its full range, and the skills and resources of both the orchestra and choir are brilliantly displayed. The sound of the recording is good, though not first-rate: there are occasional problems with the voices being close up or far off, but not altogether in the same space. Whether this comports with some intended directional or antiphonal effects or is even caused by unusual microphone placement, it is a little disconcerting in the stereo mix. But the compelling interest of the music makes this one criticism seem minor, and the loveliness of the vocal production overrides the less than exceptional audio quality.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2