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Music Review: L'Arpeggiata preforms Montiverdi's Vespers of the Blessed Virgin


Nothing is more triumphant than the opening phrase of the Vespers of the Blessed Virgin, in the first piece Domine Ad Adiuvandum.  Monteverdi surpasses Bach and Handel with his very first church piece, Vespers of the Blessed Virgin is a marvel of Baroque composition.

Each movement has tremendous emotion and drama within such short pieces.  The movements all have different instrumentation, which led Baroque music scholars to believe that the movements were not to be played as a whole entity in mass.  This change in instrumentation gives a change in timbre between the movements on the album, which allows the listener to distinguish between pieces.

Monteverdi adds polyphony to the already established chordal, homophonic pieces, and this is executed the best in Psalm 126: Nisi Dominus.  This movement uses a short melody passed around through different vocal ranges and the result is a much more complex but beautiful piece. 

The Magnificat section features several singers and it is an interesting change to hear several male soloists.  The second half of the album reflects upon the earlier themes that were presented, but expands them in variation that show up in very short movements. 

The singers and musicians of the baroque music ensemble L’Arpeggiata do a wonderful job preforming this intricate and difficult music.  The techniques that go along with baroque music are much different than those of other eras, and these singers do a great job creating the perfect vocal blend and texture that works well with the baroque Italian music. 

This album is a great listen for baroque music lovers, as Monteverdi expands on the ideas of the earlier baroque church pieces.  L’Arpeggiata does a great job interpreting Monteverdi’s works and making them more accessible to the non-baroque listener.  This album really shows the talents of both Monteverdi as a composer and the musicians that make up this baroque ensemble.