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”).
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.
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.
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