July 2002: Monteverdi Vespers

Monteverdi, Vespers of 1610

Exeter Festival, July 2002

Exeter Express and Echo, 5 July 2002

"Exeter Cathedral became an Italian basilica of the early 17th Century for this wonderfully enjoyable concert. It was time of great richness in traditional and newly invented musical styles and a time in which the sackbutt, a forerunner of the modern trombone, and the cornett, a wooden instrument played like a trumpet and fingered like a recorder, were principal instruments. It was fascinating to hear the authentic sounds reproduced.

The vespers have been described as having one foot in the cathedral and one foot in the ducal court - a mix of secular and sacred. It is not known if they were supposed to be performed together, as here, or whether one or two were chosen to be done at a time.

However, Exeter Festival Chorus and seven guest soloists gave plenty of proof of the beauty and complexity of these compositions where the style can change from plainsong to sections where everybody plays and sings together.

This was a greatly enjoyable demonstration of period music and let's hope Exeter hears such a concert again soon."