Christchurch Press review of Monteverdi Vespers 8 October 2012

“Thrilling Baroque Music – David Sell

The Jubilate Singers can be relied on to give a performance of interest. But I didn’t expect one as consistently polished and exciting as they gave on this occasion.

The Vespers is the biggest sacred work up to that time. This, and the fact that it is neither renaissance nor baroque, yet both, presents unique challenges.

Grant Hutchinson used a relatively new edition by John Kilpatrick. Consistent with performances in Monteverdi’s time, he adapted the performance to the available musicians and to the venue. The Jubilate Singers were at its heart, and the fine orchestra of strings and mostly authentic trumpets and sackbuts, and theorbo were arranged antiphonally. Hutchinson had ensured that they play cleanly and without vibrato, leaving the acoustics of St Mary’s to do the rest. Organists Martin Setchell and Nicholas Sutcliffe maintained a secure continuo.

The Baroque Voices provided a wonderful group of soloists. Sopranos Pepe Becker and Jayne Tankersley, counter tenor Christopher Warwick, tenors Oliver Sewell and Phillip Collins and bass/baritone Benjamin Caukwell were all convincing.

It is not often I can apply the term “exciting” to a local performance of early music, but this was as gripping as similar music I have heard in the great baroque centres of Italy and Austria.”