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Monteverdi: Vespers (1610) at Cadogan Hall & Temple Church

Ex Cathedra Consort & Baroque Ensemble with His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts

cond. Jeffrey Skidmore

Cadogan Hall, London,
16 October, 2010


A great Monteverdi evening in a performance of the Vespers, carefully prepared and choreographed by Jeffrey Skidmore, giving opportunities for each of Ex Cathedra Consort's fine professional singers to duet and take solos (for which Skidmore sat aside) as well as coming together as a chamber choir of ten.

One of my most vivid early musical experiences was of Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 at a performance under Walter Goehr and Michael Tippett, then intriguing but strange music indeed, with Morley College Choir, Recorder Ensemble and Orchestra (Central Hall, Westminster; 5 July 1946).

Attendance at tonight's performance was fortuitous; I came across it earlier in the day whilst researching His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts in connection with reviewing their marvellous CD of early Venetian music, The Floating City.

At Cadogan Hall, the cornetts doubled on recorders in the Magnificat, the sagbutts gave a rich basis to the ensembles, and there were many echo effects with musicians briefly off stage.

The well-filled Cadogan Hall was the perfect ambience visually and its acoustic ideal. It was not clear whether the Edition used had been created for Ex Cathedra? In any event, this was an account of the great Vespers to relish, one which demands to be preserved for TV/DVD.

Peter Grahame Woolf

[to be repeated tomorrow in BirminghamTown Hall 4 p.m.]



Harry Christophers and The Sixteen






Claudio Monteverdi – Vespers of 1610

Temple Church, London
15th November 2010

Heard again a month on, this performance of the Vespers owed its success to a partnership with the acoustics of Temple Church, a perfect environment for this sacred masterpiece which, judging from the capacity audience and their appreciation, has now become a repertory "standard"; when I first heard it in 1946 (v.s.) it was a peculiar novelty.

The twenty singers of The Sixteen, with an orchestra of some eighteen, made a splendid sound, Harry Christopher revelling in the auditory possibilities by dispersing his singers around the great church; especially delightful was some of the singing from the famous circular nave, behind this main nave in which we sat.

It all added up to a fine experience, likely to have been closer to what was experienced of old than Skidmore's in a concert hall acoustic.

Peter Grahame Woolf


Messa a 4 da Cappella: Kyrie and Gloria Credidi Pianto della Madonna (sopra il Lamento dell’ Arianna) Credo Beatus vir (Secondo)
Memento Magnificat (Secondo) Laudate Dominum Messa a 4 da Cappella: Sanctus and Agnus Dei Crucifixus Laudate pueri (Secondo)

The Sixteen/Harry Christophers with instrumentalists

Temple Music at Temple Church, 7 November 2011

This programme of works by Monteverdi, a retrospective of his works for the Church, looking back to his fruitful tenure at St Mark's, Venice, attracted a capacity audience to Temple Church. The Mass a 4 is restrained, in contrast with some of the Psalm settings.

The second half of the concert rose to picturesque settings of Laudate Dominum & Laudate Pueri, with colourful instrumental support and two tenor soloists "vying to outdo each other" in virtuosity.

The sound was magnificent and direct from press seats near the action, but mellow and even more beautiful hearing the last item from the back of the church, which has a fine acoustic with clarity right to the other end of the huge nave.

The concert was being broadcast live and is available for a week on BBCR3 Listen Again.

Peter Grahame Woolf