From the early 1630s onwards, Monteverdi had little by little become detached from his secular occupations – perhaps preparing to take his leave of earthly existence. But when he was already over 70 he set to work once more, publishing his eighth book of madrigals before offering the public a bulky collection of sacred works in the shape of the Selva morale e spirituale. Infinitely more ambitious than the comparable anthologies of his contemporaries, the work is here presented complete, enabling the listener to discover the whole range of Monteverdi’s output of sacred music, from madrigals and virtuoso solo motets to the most elaborate polyphony. In his preface evoking the multifarious “creatures” sheltered by this vast “moral and spiritual forest”, the father of Baroque music was merely emphasising the wonderful diversity of styles so characteristic of his wide-ranging genius.
John Eliot Gardiner’s recording was made live at the Göttingen Festival in 1988 … the exhilaration and intensity of the performance come over vividly, with superb singing from both chorus and an almost ideal line-up of soloists … as for the Monteverdi Choir, their clarity, incisiveness and beauty are a constant delight.(Penguin Guide)
Monteverdi's larger choral pieces are so masterly that they tend to overshadow his chamber scale sacred music the solo works in particular. Occasionally one or two of these exquisite motets will appear on a collection such as Paul McCreesh's Venetian Vespers, but rarely do they become the focus of an entire recording as they are here. The much-admired early-music diva Maria Cristina Kiehr has a slightly constricted quality to her voice that won't appeal to everyone, but her very narrow vibrato colors her sound without affecting her accuracy of pitch, spotless coloratura, or blend with period instruments (played beautifully here by Concerto Soave).
A new live recording of Bach’s Lutheran Mass in F Major (BWV223), Cantata "Süßer Trost, mein Jesus kömmt (BWV 151) and Magnificat in E flat (BWV243a), recorded in London at the end of a European tour in December 2016.
This is a great set. The main competition to this production comes from Gardiner, with Anthony Rolfe Johnson as Orfeo. His is a superbly attractive voice, and he remains the best Orfeo I've heard. But Victor Torres is excellent too and his performance is very distinctive and rich in character. What's more, he is better recorded, as is the whole of Garrido's interpretation…”