Claudio Monteverdi Messa a quattro voci et salmi of 1650, Vol. 1.

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers
Coro COR16142

This the first of two CDs, grouped to avoid repitition of texts: it is not fully presented as a service. There are two groups from the liturgy: Dixit I a8, Confitebor II a2 and Lauda Jerusalem a3, followed by Cavalli’s Magnificat a6 (there was no available Monteverdi one). Then follows another group of psalms – Laetatus sum a5, Nisi Dominus a3 and Laudate pueri a5, followed by the Laetaniae della Beata Virgine a6. The disc ends with Beatus vir a7, for its popularity rather than being placed with other psalms; it would, however, have been better to have just seven singers – it works much better that way, and bringing in an odd tutti bar or two sounds ludicrous. It does, however, match the one-singer-per-part of the opening item. Some of the single-choir pieces could also be sung thus. The performance style, however, works well, and my editions are up-to-date. Harry gets the right shape and tempo, and the performance is fine. I look forward to vol. 2. But when I tot up the numbers of singers, 18 rather than 16 is the normal number: isn’t it the time to replace 16 by 18?

Clifford Bartlett