Dunedin Consort review – Monteverdi up close and personal | Classical music

The Dunedin Consort gave an exciting and visceral interpretation of Monteverdi’s Vespers at the Lammermuir festival a few years ago. For this year’s appearance, the ensemble returned to the composer, but on this occasion it was for an exploration of the secular side of his production.

The work of Monteverdi straddling the end of the Renaissance and the beginning of the Baroque. It is full of tortured chromaticism which paints the emotion expressed in texts full of sighs and moans. No wonder musicians familiar with 20th century modernism took its music to heart when it was rediscovered.

In this festival program, performed with typical attention to detail and rock-solid chord (which is no small feat in some of these works), the Dunedin Consort has juxtaposed works for unaccompanied voices from the first books of madrigals with more declamatory pieces from the composer’s last volume. , Madrigals of war and love.

In truth, the austere and stony grandeur of St Mary’s probably suits the sacred side of Monteverdi’s production better – you imagine the madrigals were performed in a fantasy. camera in a ducal palace in an Italian city, and the vaulted surroundings lend a somewhat ecclesiastical atmosphere to these shameless secular works. Yet what the hall lacks in terms of proper ambience, it makes up for in the clarity of its acoustics, and here the strategic placement of the monitors has allowed the audience at the back of the nave to see the performers up close.

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With madrigals interspersed with instrumental works by Monteverdi’s contemporaries and vocal work by Barbara Strozzi, it was an interesting and imaginative program that came to life in a vivid performance by singers and instrumentalists from the Dunedin Consort.

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