This review was written for CultureVulture.net. To read the review there, please click here, otherwise read below.
For Monday night, this was a special occasion on many accounts for the BBC Proms. It was the debut for award-winning French early music ensemble Pygmalion and their artistic director Raphaël Pichon. The 32-year-old violinist, countertenor and conductor had dreamed of developing a ensemble – now called Pygmalion – ever since he was an adolescent musician, and the Proms got to see the first glimpse of Pichon’s musical wizardry and genius.
The work performed was Monteverdi’s exquisite 1610 Vespers. This year Monteverdi fans celebrate the composer’s 450th anniversary since his birth. The music was produced while Monteverdi was a choirmaster to Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, and he took every opportunity to compose the piece as he saw fit. Rather than simply writing the work as a compendium for choir chapels and churches, such as St Mark’s in Venice or St Peter’s in Rome, he included Vespers psalms, motets and a mass setting – the creation of a spectacular kaleidoscope of spiritual music.