I want to say a big “Thank you” to Wokingham Choral society for their magnificent performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers on Saturday 31 March.
Vespers for the Blessed Virgin was a revelation to those of us hearing it for the first time. From the first explosion of sound with the full choir, soloists and instrumentalists intoning “Deus in auditorium meum intende” (God make speed to save me) to the final wall of sound for the last Amen, it was an arresting and exciting performance.
The young tenors Thomas Elwin and Samuel Furness filled Reading University Hall with their powerful trained voices to complement the full throated notes of the choir. Alexander Chaplin, the Conductor, was sure footed and provided a good musical and historical guide to the work.
Monetverdi was dazzling. He is often attributed with the first secular opera, L’Orfeo. In these collections of pieces for evening prayer he displays his ability to mix traditional plainsong with a newer operatic music. The performers captured his fascination with echo well. It was particularly striking when the two tenors sang the same lines in sequence from opposite ends of the hall. The small orchestra also rose to the occasion, introducing us to some older instruments.
The Society provided a great evening for all who came. It was a pleasure to hear such a dramatic work delivered with so much enthusiasm.