La Petite Bande

Vespro della Beata Vergine

Format: SACD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917231120
Catnr: CC 72311
Release date: 03 October 2008
Challenge Classics
Catalogue number
CC 72311
Release date
03 October 2008

About the album

Monteverdi’s “Vespro della Beata Vergine” was published in 1610, together with his “Missa in illo tempore”. This edition is his first important collection of music for the Catholic service.
There is much uncertainty about how this “Vespro” came into being. In fact, this is a collection of various pieces which were most likely not conceived together with the goal of creating a self-contained unity; there are for example two Magnificat compositions in a row; of course only one of these should be chosen by the performer.

The manner of performance of this sort of music could vary strongly in the time, even within the prevailing conventions; however, in his 1610 edition, Monteverdi gave many concrete instructions regarding vocal and instrumental setting, which actually makes the choices more limited in this case. In our performance, I have chosen to follow these instructions completely; even if that means for example that some instruments are seldom used. (In fact, this also seems to indicate a certain degree of independence among the musical fragments.) The vocal parts are therefore always in a solo setting, one per part; the ten vocalists each have a specific individual role. A performance with a choir (wherein the parts would be doubled or trebled in the polyphonic pieces) is certainly a possibility – although Monteverdi’s instructions in the score seem to indicate a setting for solo voices, which in my opinion also can facilitate more pronounced and individualized expression.

Consistent with the composer’s instructions about instrumentation, many fragments are accompanied only by the organ. Some fragments indicate precise instrumental combinations, and others have only the summary indication “con stromenti” (“with instruments”, without precise indications about which), or even “con stromenti, si placet” (with instuments, as one wishes); these last two directions require the performer to make his own choices, which is completely in keeping with the spirit of the times.
‘Vespro della Beata Vergine’ volgens de aanwijzingen van de componist
‘Vespro della Beata Vergine’ werd samen met ‘Missa in illo tempore’ uitgegeven in 1610. Deze uitgave is Monteverdi’s eerste collectie muziek voor de Katholieke dienst. Het is niet duidelijk hoe de ‘Vespro’ is ontstaan. Het is eigenlijk een verzameling van losse stukken die niet als doel hebben om een eenheid te vormen.

Wat wel duidelijk is aan dit werk, zijn Monteverdi’s instructies over de vocale en instrumentale bezetting. La Petite Bande heeft ervoor gekozen om deze instructies op te volgen, ook al heeft dit tot gevolg dat sommige instrumenten zelden gebruikt worden. Er wordt slechts een zanger per partij ingezet, wat de muziek een geïndividualiseerde uitdrukking geeft. De tien zangers hebben elk een eigen rol. Veel fragmenten worden slechts door orgel begeleid, wat ook in lijn is met de aanwijzingen van Monteverdi. Door de instructies te volgen, krijgt het werk zijn oorspronkelijke klank terug.
Monteverdis ?Vespro della Beata Vergine? (1610) ist seine erste wichtige Komposition für den katholischen Gottesdienst. Seine Partitur-Anweisungen weisen eher auf eine einstimmige Besetzung hin, daher werden die Sänger hier stets solistisch eingesetzt. Dies verleiht der Musik einen charakteristischeren und persönlicheren Ausdruck und soll den ursprünglichen Klang wieder einfangen und deren Kern so direkt wie möglich erfassen.


La Petite Bande (Belgium) was founded in 1972 by Sigiswald Kuijken at the request of the record company Harmonia Mundi (Germany) in order to record Lully's "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme", under the direction of Gustav Leonhardt. The orchestra takes its name and constitution from Lully's own orchestra at the court of Louis XIV. All its members are internationally renowned specialists in the early music field.

Although originally La Petite Bande was not meant to become a permanent orchestra, the success of the recordings was such that they began to give concerts regularly. Having initially concentrated mainly on French music, the orchestra's repertoire has expanded over the years to include music by the Italian masters and that of Bach, Handel, Gluck, Haydn, Mozart and others.

The 17-part CD series "Cantatas of J.S. Bach" (ACCENT) will be finished by the end of 2012. Sigiswald Kuijken applies the latest findings in Bach research: no choir, but rather a vocal quartet together with a minimal instrumental scoring. In this way, the fine musical texture of these cantatas can be much better (and more naturally) revealed.

La Petite Bande has recorded instrumental as well as vocal music, including operas and oratorios from the Baroque and Classical periods. La Petite Bande currently makes recordings for Accent, Challenge, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Denon, Seon/Virgin and Hyperion.

La Petite Bande has performed in a multitude of international festivals and concert series, in Europe, Japan, Australia, South America and China.
Since 1997, La Petite Bande has been in residence in the City of Leuven.



Play album


Interview with Sigiswald Kuijken (part 1)
Interview with Sigiswald Kuijken (part 2)
Interview with Sigiswald Kuijken (part 3)
Interview with Sigiswald Kuijken (part 4)

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