Tuesday, February 02, 2010

ABS: Monteverdi Vespers

Monteverdi Vespers of 1610
American Bach Soloists
American Bach Choir
Jeffrey Thomas, conductor

Jennifer Ellis soprano
Abigail Haynes Lennox soprano
Derek Chester tenor

Sunday 31 January 2010 at 7:00 pm
St. Mark's Lutheran Church

Less than 4 hours after hearing those ambivalent, see-sawing notes that close Berg's Wozzeck, I was blasted by the blazingly confident fanfare that opens Monteverdi's Vespers. Monteverdi & Berg are both favorites with me, but I won't even try to imagine how they might be linked.

Conductor Jeffrey Thomas, standing at a harpsichord, led an incredibly clean & in-tune performance by the American Bach Soloists. Every vocal line was clear, balance between voices & orchestra was ideal, & those often unreliable Baroque wind instruments were played with virtuosic agility. No odd squawks or questionable tuning here. Tempos & dynamic levels were very uniform. The performance had the technical perfection of a CD recording.

In a crowd of very even soloists, the reliable Derek Chester stood out. His tenor sound is ideal for this music: smooth, pure & bright, especially in its middle range.

After intermission, the Magnificat for 6 voices was performed before the Sonata sopra Sancta Maria instead of at the end. This shuffled order may have been to done to give the Sonata's showy instrumental solos a central position in the 2nd half.

Before the performance, we were encouraged to a enter a raffle to win Monteverdi's Vespa, in the winner's choice of color. For some reason the announcer thought that people might not know what to do with a Vespa, so he suggested that the winner might want to donate it back to ABS or another organization.

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