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  Hyperion -
  SACDA67531/2 (2 discs)
  Monteverdi: Vespers, Magnificat - Robert King
  Monteverdi: Vespers, Magnificat a 6, Missa in illo tempore

Carolyn Sampson, Rebecca Outram (soprano)
Daniel Auchincloss, Nicholas Mulroy (counter tenor)
Charles Daniels, James Gilchrist (tenor)
Peter Harvey, Robert Evans, Robert Macdonald (bass)
Choir of the King's Consort
The King's Consort
Robert King (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Vocal
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Reviews: 2

Site review by Polly Nomial May 12, 2006
Performance:   Sonics:    
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

Review by beardawgs January 17, 2008 (4 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Few years ago a reasonably successful British composer told me how sick he was of Monteverdi being treated and worshipped in this country as a 'holy cow'. This got me thinking, but it also made me revisited Monteverdi's music I usually take for granted. Was it the music or some mediocre performances that made him think that way? We do tend to take Monteverdi for granted, true, but there must be a reason behind the tautology that the Italian renaissance master can't do wrong. And how easy would be to slip into blind obsession and adoration of a composer's cult - be it Monteverdi, Bach, Wagner or Ligeti (I'm sure I missed your favourite composer here, but you get the idea, I hope...).

Enters Robert King and Hyperion. If anyone built a worshipping temple to any composer they did it with the 5 CD collection of Monteverdi's sacred music. A towering glory is this Vespro, and if by now anyone is wondering what the fuss is all about, crank up the volume, play the CD and let all your senses be overwhelmed with glory of the music, production and performance that reached the absolute pinnacle or perfection if there ever was any. King and his musicians shamelessly feast on every bar, every musical line and phrase, they are not just an inspired bunch, they worship the text and glorify the subtleties. Voices go further than just the singing, continuo instrumentalists provide rhythmic accuracy and ripienists wash away the sound with majestic noise in tutti passages, lifting the spirits and inspiring listeners to divine highs equal only to epiphany. Can I praise this recording even more? Probably, but I'll stop here and defy anyone to remain unmoved with so much passion, dedication, sheer exuberance and joy of music making. Worshipping Monteverdi as a holy...? This recording gives only possible answer to that dilemma - absolutely and entirely. If the original music was written as a glorification to Virgin Mary, this performance is nothing short of a miracle dedicated to its creator.

Vespro is an ensemble piece. Or to be precise, collection of pieces. Finding the appropriate balance between individual and collective contributions can make or break any performance. Savall in his vintage 20 years old recording opted for collective, (Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine - Savall) ironing out some exiting textural and vocal differences between movements. King on the other hand manages to strike the perfect balance between sections, reducing tonal colouring to pure sounds, while solo singers provide with voices of pure ethereal and divine qualities. Much bigger (more natural) dynamic range of this recording helps a lot in differentiating between the sections, while they retain their appropriate place and meaning within the whole. My personal favourite in terms of sheer beauty and divine purity has to be Duo Seraphim, perfectly judged and executed vocally to perfection.

Hperion's production values are also as close to perfection as the performance is - sound perspective shifting appropriately depending on each movement, wide dynamic range not just bursting out loud when necessary but filling in the space voluminously, solo voices present and focused, large choral numbers transparent and homogeneous. And this is the only recording of a complete 1610 Vespers collection with the Missa In Illo Tempore thrown in for a good measure. On a very personal note, I find it fitting that Robert King left musical world (only temporary I hope) with such a bang - for all sins of his personal life, to this soul he is first and foremost a master musician who brought more joy than suffering to the world. And a big supporting bravo to Hyperion for resisting some blood thirsty calls of removing his recorded legacy from the catalogue.

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Works: 3  

Claudio Monteverdi - Magnificat à 6
Claudio Monteverdi - Missa in illo tempore
Claudio Monteverdi - Vespro della Beata Vergine