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In his years as director of
the musical establishment at San Marco Basilica in Venice, beginning in
1613, Claudio Monteverdi all but ceased publishing collections of his music.
But in the last years of his life he put together extensive retrospective
collections of both his secular and sacred writing. In 1638 he issued his
Eighth Book of Madrigals, a grand two-part assemblage that also included
several of his theatrical works. Eight years after he died, his admirers
published in 1651 what they called his Ninth Book of Madrigals. Meanwhile,
in 1640-41, Monteverdi himself gathered together a rich overview of his
sacred works, composed in his Venetian years, and titled them Selva Morale e
Spirituale (Moral and Spiritual Grove). Later, admirers collected more of
this material and published it as the posthumous Missa a Quatro Voci et
Salmi in 1650.
The singers and players of the
Balthasar Neumann ensembles (taking their name from the great Baroque
architect) are old hands at music of this kind and deliver expert
performances. Heras-Casado has not been much identified with Baroque music
before, but he fully appreciates the flexibilities need in this rhythmically volatile music. And the sound
is bright and vivid.
If you want some idea of
Monteverdi’s sacred music after 1610, this is a good selection. Still, the
serious collector really needs the full Selva assemblage: Michel Corboz (Erato,
MHS) or (after a fashion) Frieder Bernius (FSM). But those are hard to find
nowadays. More likely to be found is the magnificent Harmonia Mundi set recorded by the
Cantus Cölln and Concerto Palatino under Konrad Junghanel: superb
performances, beautifully recorded (901718, 3 CD).
us financially by purchasing this disc from eiher one of these suppliers.