Sunday, November 18, 2012, Los Angles Master Choral performed in conjunction with Musica Angelica Orchestra Monteverdi’s Vespers, wrapping the audience in clouds of gentleness and pure Magic.
Music director Grant Gershon conducted the highly anticipated performance at Disney Hall with much grace, in presence with 40 of the finest singers all members of the Los Angeles Master Choral. Accompanied by a fabulous Baroque orchestra that still uses period instruments such as Archlute, Theorbo, Cornetto and Sackbut one felt catapulted back to the Renaissance times.
Monteverdi was the most important composer of the late 16th early 17th century in Italy. His work marked the transition from Renaissance to Baroque music and he wrote one of the earliest operas called ” L’Orfeo”. Using novel compositional and theatrical techniques to create music described as "half opera, half dance," Monteverdi helped lay the foundation for the stylistic conventions of the Baroque era. Written for choir, soloists and orchestra, the Vespers are considered to be the greatest work of sacred music prior to Bach's B Minor Mass.
Monteverdi was based in Mantua and self published the Vespers in 1610. It was a collection of Roman Catholic prayers sung at set times each day (early evening in this case). It was fascinating to hear all of the pieces in a 90 minutes performance, especially since it is unverifiable if the pieces were to be performed together as one. What’s certain is that Monteverdi’s 1610 collection was intended to advertise his talent as a master of sacred music, dedicating a piece to Pope Paul V, hoping to attract employers in Rome and Venice.
The most traditional aspect of the texts Monteverdi includes in his Vespers pertains to the large choral movements. These consist of the five Psalm settings- Dixi Dominus, Laudate pueri, Laetatus sum, Nisi Dominus, and Lauda lerusalem- the hymn Ave Maris Stella and the Magnificat. Traditional plainchants associated with these texts are embedded within Monteverdi’s complex and varied textures.
Remarkably unconventional is Monteverdi’s inclusion of five special pieces he calls” sacred concertos”- a sequence of motets for steadily increasing numbers of solo voices with continued accompaniment, as well as the mostly instrumental Sonata sopra Santa Maria.
Sopranos Suzanne Anderson and Claire Fedoruk sing passionately in Pulchra es and tenors Daniel Chaney and Michael Lichtenauer harmonize perfectly in Duo Seraphim and Audi Coelo joined by the very talented tenor Matthew Tresler.
Consisting of an ensemble of virtuoso musicians, seven magnificent solo singers, instrumentalists who have taxing solo parts, and a first rate choir capable of navigating the constantly changing stylistic currents of the musical flow one could feel the crescendo of forces in the Hall. The audience embraced the fact that one could follow the text and it’s translation in the program.
Fill your heart with music and joy during this holiday and get tickets at (213) 972-7282, or visit www.lamc.org.
(Tickets cannot be purchased at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office except on concert days starting 2 hours prior to the performance.) The Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 South Grand Avenue at First Street in downtown Los Angeles.