Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine - SV 206

Duration : 2 heures 1 minute

The Pygmalion Ensemble, conducted by Raphaël Pichon, performs the "Vespro della Beata Vergine" by Claudio Monteverdi. A live concert recorded on 9 February 2019 at the Chapelle Royale in Versailles.


IntonatioDeus in adjutorium meum intende
ResponsoriumDomine ad adiuvandum
Psalmus 109Dixit Dominus
ConcertoNigra Sum
Psalmus 112Laudate pueri
ConcertoPulchra es
Psalmus 121Laetatus sum
ConcertoDuo Seraphim
Psalmus 126Nisi Dominus
ConcertoAudi coelum
Psalmus 147Laude Jerusalem
Sonata sopraSancta Maria
HymnusAve maria stella

Claudio Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine were composed in 1610 to mark the publication of his second volume of sacred works, alongside Missa in illo tempore, a polyphonic mass for six voices.  From 1590, Monteverdi worked for the Duke of Mantua, firstly as master of chamber music, before becoming the chaplmaster. There he composed his operas Orfeo and Arianna. The Vespro represented Monteverdi's most sacred and important work yet, composed when the composer considered resigning and moving, exhausted by the considerable workload imposed by the Duke, for very little pay. The composer dedicated his works directly to the pope Paul V, in the hope of obtaining a new position in Rome and a bursary for his son to study at the Vatican. Unfortunately for Monteverdi, the pope never replied to the composer's gesture, and he eventually accepted a position at the chapel of Saint-Marc in Venice in 1613. Yet Monteverdi had done everything right: his texts followed the political line of the Pope, les textes suivent la ligne politique du pape, the cantor of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and a great respect for liturgical conventions. 

However, the conception and composition of the Vespro was very original for its time. Though the Deus in adjutorium, 5 psalms, a Hymnus and the Magnificat are all present, 5 additional works in the form of concerti sacri were added. These are the most modern in terms of musical writing, the Nigra sum and Pulchra es in the style of a recitative, coinciding with the birth of the operatic style. This new musical style, in which the matter contained within the words is expressed directly by the melody, is mixed with a more traditional and polyphonic style from the Renaissance (found in the first 5 psalms, the Hymne and the Magnificat). In the Deus in adjutorium, the choral psalmodie is assocaited with an instrumental fanfare referencing the Toccata from the recently-composed Orfeo. Monteverdi thus used elements of secular music without infringing upon the overall religious essence of the work. Amidst the work's various difficulties, there is a balance to be maintained between the theatrical passages and those of contemplation, between the vocal and instrumental virtuosity and the purity of the original material. It is in this complexity that lies the genius of Monteverdi's Vespro, comparable to \1's Messiah or the Passion according to Saint-John and to Saint-Matthew by Bach in terms of importance in the history of sacred music.

Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine performed by the Pygmalion Ensemble and conducted by Raphaël Pichon
Full concert
Monteverdi: Vespro della Beata Vergine performed by the Pygmalion Ensemble and conducted by Raphaël Pichon
Chapelle Royale, Versailles
Claudio Monteverdi
Claudio Monteverdi
All artists
  • Raphaël PichonConductor
  • Lucile RichardotPerformer
  • Eva ZaïcikPerformer