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Harmonia Early Music

Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610: New, Old, and Now

Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the publication of Claudio Monteverdi’s “Marian Vespers” of 1610.

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portrait of monteverdi

Photo: Associazione Amici della Raccolta Bertarelli, Milan

A 19th-century etching by Barberis of Claudio Monteverdi.

400 years ago…

Outside of his three operas, Claudio Monteverdi’s “Marian Vespers” is one of his most famous compositions. Published in 1610 while in the service of the ducal court in Mantua, the Vespers is a ravishing work of beauty, poetry, and virtuosity. Its dramatic beginning statement initiates a powerful Christian ceremony: Deus in adjutorium meum intende (“O God, come to my assistance”).

Claudio Monteverdi: "Deus in adjutorium - Domine ad adjuvandum," 'Dixit Dominus," and "Laudate Pueri"
Tragicomedia and Concerto Palatino/Stephen Stubbs — Vespro della Beata Vergine (1610) (ATMA, 2003)
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Another “Marian Vespers”

Monteverdi wasn’t the only Italian composer to dedicate music for vespers service to the Virgin Mary. Forty years after Monteverdi printed his vespers, Chiara Margarita Cozzolani published her own in Venice, though her setting was noticeably different. The most obvious quality being that it was written specifically for women’s voices. She entered the convent early in life and took inspiration from the music and people that surrounded her.

Chiara Margarita Cozzolani: "Surgamus omnes"
Magnificat/Warren Stewart — Vespro della Beata Vergine (Musica Omnia , 2001)
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Monterverdi meets the 21st Century

In 2006, the Vespers was the inspiration for choreographer Alain Platel’s staged dance piece entitled V-S-P-R-S. The composer and arranger Fabrizio Cassol was given the task of modernizing Monteverdi’s classic work, which he did, but in an unexpected fashion. Cassol brought together the period instrument musicians and seasoned improvisers. The result was a new and fresh work…a kind Monteverdi-inspired composition for the 21st Century.

Monteverdi/Cassol: Overture and "Duo Seraphim"
VSPRS Orchestra with AKA Moon, Oltremontano, and others/Fabrizio Cassol — VSPRS: Music Inspired by [Montervedi’s] Vespro Della Beata Vergine (Cypres, 2006)
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Featured release

Our featured recording is a 2009 Alia Vox release entitled “The Forgotten Kingdom,” which traces the history of the Christian religious sect known as Catharism, from its origins and flowering to its persecution and eventual demise. Jordi Savall directs La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Hesperion XXI in a performance that embodies a musical ideal of East meets West

Various: Fanfare de Croisade, Taksim & Danse Arabo Andalouse mawachah chamoulo, Plainte Instrumentale II - Duduk & Kaval, and Musique Bulgare - Taksim & Danse
La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Hesperion XXI/Jordi Savall — The Forgotten Kingdom: The Albigensian Crusade (Alia Vox , 2009)
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Claudio Monteverdi: "Deus in adjutorium - Domine ad adjuvandum," 'Dixit Dominus," and "Laudate Pueri"
Tragicomedia and Concerto Palatino/Stephen Stubbs — Vespro della Beata Vergine (1610) (ATMA, 2003)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Chiara Margarita Cozzolani: "Surgamus omnes"
Magnificat/Warren Stewart — Vespro della Beata Vergine (Musica Omnia , 2001)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Monteverdi/Cassol: Overture and "Duo Seraphim"
VSPRS Orchestra with AKA Moon, Oltremontano, and others/Fabrizio Cassol — VSPRS: Music Inspired by [Montervedi’s] Vespro Della Beata Vergine (Cypres, 2006)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Various: Fanfare de Croisade, Taksim & Danse Arabo Andalouse mawachah chamoulo, Plainte Instrumentale II - Duduk & Kaval, and Musique Bulgare - Taksim & Danse
La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Hesperion XXI/Jordi Savall — The Forgotten Kingdom: The Albigensian Crusade (Alia Vox , 2009)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Bernard Gordillo

Bernard Gordillo was born in Managua, Nicaragua, and raised in New Orleans. He holds degrees from Centenary College of Louisiana, the Early Music Institute at Indiana University, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Bernard also writes and hosts the Harmonia Early Music Podcast.

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