Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
This year's Fringe has a real quality feel about it already and with 68 shows and events entered it could be another record-breaking year.

Many people have already written in to say how excited they are by the range and number of visual arts events for 2010 - with a number of new venues. The Buxton Art Trail seems to have served as a catalyst; there have been dozens of creative and energetic artists and crafts people in and around Buxton for years, and this will be accurately reflected across the town in July. We shall review what is on offer a little nearer the time.

We've already given a plug for the Military Tattoo. This will probably be the last mention here - but tickets are now on sale; at the Opera House, the Buxton Tourist Information Office, the Chestnut Centre or at will just the one show this year - on Saturday, 10th July. This may well become an annual event - but you'll want to be in at the beginning.

Something that won't be an annual event will be the Monteverdi centenary - at least that is what a mathematician tells me. But should I have asked a musicologist? Anyway, his Vespers of 1610 are amongst the best-loved of the early music repertoire. The performance will take place at St John's on Saturday 24 July starting at 4.10pm (think 24 hour clock here). There is much information from which the following information is extracted: 

Around 45 singers drawn from two local choirs will take part, supplemented by some experienced tenors. Passages will be suitably allocated to chorus, semi-chorus, or solo singers, contributing to an exciting performance. The six string and six wind instrumentalists will play all the notes that Monteverdi specifically wrote for violin and viola da brazzo, cornetti and tromboni, and double the vocal parts judiciously in the psalm settings and elsewhere. The Lauda and Magnificat will be at the lower pitch, a 4th down from that often heard in choral performances. This brings the instruments into the same playing ranges that they have had elsewhere in the work, such that the upper wind can cope without uncharacteristic strain, and the strings can play in first position, which is what the violins, at least, would have had to do in Monteverdi's day. The strings will also play using a pure tone without vibrato: a dream sound, for those not accustomed to it.

The upper wind will comprise 2 x D-trumpet and a Bb trumpet or cornet. The lower wind will be "pea-shooter" trombones - around 80-100 years old, and nearer in specification to the old sackbutts than modern instruments, except in bell shape. Continuo will be provided by organ (using the church's organ in a chamber-organ style) and a harpsichord (a real instrument, though not an "Italian" model).

by Keith Savage - Published 22/03/2012

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