Video Alert: Summer Sunday Monteverdi

MV gala EH LCA.png

[It’s not new, but it’s still a nice soundtrack for a Sunday night: ARTE is reairing the cut version of the 2014 Théâtre du Champs-Elysées Monteverdi Gala with the Le Concert Astrée under Emmanuelle Haïm, available on ARTE Concert as of August 7th, 6:30 p.m. (UTC+2). – Toti Lehtipuu, Rolando Villazón, Emmanuelle Haïm, members of Le Concert d’Astrée in concert in Paris. Photo Credit: Camera Lucida via ARTE)

I’m also simply fond of the photo because it’s (almost) all effortlessly cool continuo ladies at work who are eyeing the boycandy on the side, if at all, without any fawning, while the men are showcased in their singing.

There is a relatively large cast list for this concert, and it’s not limited to Early Music singers:

  • Magdalena Kožená
  • Rolando Villazón
  • Emiliano Gonzalez Toro
  • Topi Lehtipuu
  • Nahuel Di Pierro
  • Lenneke Ruiten
  • Pascal Bertin
  • Katherine Watson

I didn’t listen to this in 2014 and I am curious about it because I have mixed feelings about voices with a modern education singing *early* Early Music, but Haïm has a knack for adapting singers into the style. Villazón has done the “Combattimento” with her, also on record, and while I still don’t find his approach organic in this kind of music, I appreciate his sense of drama and storytelling for Monteverdi.

Another case is Kožená, whom I deeply enjoy with classical and romantic/late romantic repertory: I was not sold, which I may have mentioned before, on her “Lettere amorose” recording because I find her idiomatic approach not that well-suited for Monteverdi (too big, too broad) and because she does not acknowledge early Baroque ornamentation conventions. This is one style where a purist declamation of “what is on the page”, however intelligently and rhetorically thought, will not cut it. So I really want to hear how she works with Haïm, and how Haïm works with her.

And, look, there is more Lenneke Ruiten, too. Another one whom I am curious about in early Baroque repertory.

10 thoughts on “Video Alert: Summer Sunday Monteverdi”

  1. i’m not quite a fan of Villazón’s way of singing.. the orchestra is having a blast! (am still debating if i should drop EM a msg regarding ACA’s Orfeo 😀 , i’m quite certain she’d deliver a significantly more emotional Orfeo than this <– this being the pre-performance to the next season Orfeo w/ EM + RV)


      1. This Pur ti miro (I just accidentally typed Poor to miro) was my least favorite number of the concert – and it’s not just missing the same-range effect (put Lehtipuu and Gonzalez Toro to it and I’d prefer that), but also the treatment of line. I commend them both for the rhetoric approach, and their voices are balanced in that they’re both significantly heavier, but it’s not my cup of Monteverdi.



    1. an ACA Orfeo with EH – universe, please make it happen!

      My favorite part of this concert is witnessing the musicians enjoying every bit of it (also that sly bit of programming right in the beginning – I don’t think anyone could do THAT number with a straight face). The “Zeffiro torna” between Lehtipuu and Gonzales Toro was wonderful. I also liked hte Lamento della Ninfa with the more Early-Music seasoned background group that accomodated Kozena well, and I also did like Kozena in that one. (the only thing that simply did NOT work for me was that “Pur ti miro”)
      Of course the concert was, I guess, marketed around two classical “big shots” doing Monteverdi – and I commend them both for trying for a very rhetoric approach, being flexible with tempo (Kozena in the Lamento in particular), and really referring to the words and the diction as a key point (and Haïm for getting them to this place). That does balance in part the lack of a clear Early Music line: You can do a line and then ornament on the line, which would be closest to 1600 sources and treatises. The alternative shown here – which did not work out all that badly, I think – was, since that kind of line was impossible, to really tie it back to the rhetoric impulse and channel the bigger voices that way: do the color by direct coloring, and not by employing passaggi as gestures).
      Villazón does not do much for me personally in sound, but I recognize the work he put into this, and I can appreciate his storytelling and his sincerely trying to get into this very particular style as someone educated towards a vastly different repertory. Kozena, I enjoyed more here than on her entire “Lettere amorose” and I think the key point is putting her in a place where she can work out an individual approach to the text, and style it from there (instead of to a musical style not hers and try fitting herself into it).
      But let me get back to Lehtipuu and Gonzales Toro and Bertin and the woodwinds and everyone gorrving along like in an Arpeggiata concert! It’s a pity that it’s just a cut down version, I would have liked to hear the whole thing.


  2. Give me a tambourine to play along, please!
    But Kozena definitely has something here, doesn’t she? Also this whole constellation of „Lamento della Ninfa“, with the men’s chorus versus one woman, is very cool I think.
    Lehtipuu and Gonzales Toro are soo good together in „Zeffiro torna“ (and I love those Cornetti, especially the curved one 🙂 !).
    I agree, „Pur ti miro“ didn’t work, also in the first piece with Lehtipuu & Villazon the voices didn’t combine so well, but what an enjoyable concert overall!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For some reason I keep coming back to this version of Lamenti della Ninfa and I think it has to do with the unpolished, very emotional feel of it, even when compared to Haim’s own CD recording, especially concerning the men’s chorus. In other versions, the shepherd chorus is mostly „sympathetic commenting“ on the nymph’s misfortune (which is also pretty good already, compared to average male conduct towards women in opera in general), but in this version, the male chorus gets more weight, getting caught up in her emotions and seeming to feel very strongly with her. And while the „commenting“ can have a slightly patronizing aspect, this is not the case here, with the shepherds crying with her. And of course the video version helps showing emotions but listening without picture I still have the impression of very strong emotional engagement by the men. Regarding Kozena I think it also works very well because it’s meant to be a free interpretation by the female voice and her lack of specialisation in eárly music does not weigh much here.
    There is also a version of the Lamento with Anna Prohaska on YT and, while musically it is not bad, I got quite angry at the accompanying video, showing the three men as abusive psychiatrists, why this need to turn something beautiful ugly, just for effect?
    P.S. You really need a Haim tag, not so easy to find this post to comment in the right place.


    1. edited to add the tag now!

      (and yes, it’s safe to come back out again, one more Notes post and the run is over 😉 )

      The emotional involvement of the men always strikes me in this version as well, also the little “over the top thing” Villazón does at itmes wirks well here, I think. (I guess I’ll be skipping the Prohaska…)


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