Choir of the King’s Consort/Robert King (Hyperion CDA67531/2) * * * * *
CD review by Clare Mackney
The status of the 1610 Vespers at the heart of choral repertoire was almost bound to give them a special place in King’s Consort’s project to record all Monteverdi’s sacred music, but this fifth volume in the series goes well beyond ‘special’ and straight into the magnificent, outstanding and even landmark categories.
Robert King and his superb team of choir, soloists and instrumentalists are very clearly on top of their material, allowing them to communicate the variety, virtuosity and even exhibitionism of Monteverdi’s writing with unaffected vigour and dignity.
The first of the two CDs in particular (settings of the Vesper psalms) is positively sumptuous in the majesty, richness and florid intensity respectively of its three opening items, but there is delicacy too: Pulchra es evokes a very tender (though definitely sensual rather than sacred) lyricism and Duo Seraphim summons up a powerful image of angelic communication across the heavens.
The two Magnificat settings and Missa In illo tempore on the second CD are less extrovert – John Whenham’s excellent commentary notes the "relentlessly contrapuntal writing" of the latter – but the ornate Magnificat a 7 with its beautifully managed echo effects and less flamboyant version ‘a 6’ still provide an enormously satisfying, and complementary, listen.