Monteverdi: Sacred vocal music

Monteverdi: Sacred vocal music

Emma Kirkby (soprano), The Parley of Instruments


The last forty years have seen an enormous and extraordinary revival in the knowledge and popularity of Monteverdi’s music. But for every hundred people who know Orfeo and the Vespers of 1610 only a handful can be familiar with the rich storehouse of music contained in two massive publications, the Selva morale e spirituale of 1641 and the posthumous Messa a quattro voci et salmi of 1651, which are in the main the fruits of Monteverdi’s thirty years as director of music at St Mark’s in Venice. This recording is an offering which we hope will win new friends for Monteverdi’s later church music. One of the reasons why this marvellous music is still virtually unknown is that it does not conform to the modern image of Monteverdi as a master of massive choral and instrumental effects in the tradition of Giovanni Gabrieli, and some of it is not even choral music at all. The polychoral tradition perfected by Gabrieli, and found to some extent in Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, was superseded very soon after Gabrieli’s death in 1612 by a new style based on the fashionable vocal techniques of opera, and on the use of small ensembles mixing both voices and instruments.

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