Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610

Ipswich Chamber Choir

Choristers of St Mary-le-Tower

Ravenscroft Consort

St Mary-le-Tower Church 25th March 2017

The turn of the sixteenth century saw perhaps the most far-reaching revolution in the history of western music and towering above all other composers of his generation was Claudio Monteverdi.  The Vespers of 1610, an undoubted masterpiece, not only presents intimate prayerful moments but also incorporates secular music whilst at the same time displaying an array of diverse musical forms, both traditional and contemporary.

From the opening plainchant of the Domine ad adiuvandum, the majestic fanfare of the Lauda Jerusalem and the final atmospheric Sicut Erat, the choirs, soloists and orchestra, under the faultless and sympathetic direction of Christopher Borrett, captured perfectly the different moods and musical styles presented by this difficult work. All the soloists gave excellent performances and the way, in which the performance was "staged" during many of the solos, gave these movements the perfectly intimate settings which the music demanded. The evening also provided the young Choristers of St Mary-le-Tower the perfect opportunity, which they certainly grasped, to take part in one of music's great works.

This is the first time that the Vespers of 1610 has been performed in Ipswich and I am certain that all those who were fortunate enough to attend the concert will not wish to have to wait another four hundred years before it is next performed.

Martin Favell


Saturday 16th May 2015

St Andrew’s Church, Rushmere

There was an air of expectation amongst the packed audience before the start of the Ipswich Chamber Choir’s concert, and the arrival of the period instrument band on stage certainly enhanced that expectation.

The concert started with Vivaldi’s ever popular Gloria, which one might think as slightly unadventurous for a 30th anniversary season concert.  However, the crisp light treatment given to the piece by the conductor Christopher Borrett, and the wonderful timbre of the band gave new insights into the piece and why it remains a favourite. Of particular note were the trumpet and oboe with the choir delivering a smooth, blended sound with good attack and articulation.

Following the interval, we were treated to a semi-staged performance of Purcell’s miniature opera, Dido & Aeneas.  The choir gave splendid support to an excellent line-up of soloists who brought to life both the comic and tragic aspects of the storey. Kate Symonds-Joy was particularly powerful as Dido and I have not seen such a compelling performance of Aeneas as that delivered by Robert Davies. The band excelled themselves, with some wonderful sounds from the theorbo and dance-like (literally!) playing from the double bass.

It is encouraging to see that, thirty years on, the Ipswich Chamber Choir is producing first rate concerts and I am sure that their conductor Christopher Borrett will take them on to even greater heights.

Martyn Bagnall