After the sublime Monteverdi by Ensemble Pygmalion in the last Proms we got another sublime Monteverdi concert by Les Arts Florissants directed by William Christie.

In the recent years Les Arts Florissants is playing and recording the whole Monteverdi madrigals across different cities in Europe. Those performances are conducted by Paul Agnew, the second on board of this wonderful ship that is Les Arts Florissants. But for Selva Morale e spirituale Christie exercised his right as founder and took the pleasure of conducting it himself.

The complete madrigals are quite more popular that this collection of sacred pieces and there are tons of amazing recording madrigal cycles (La Venexiana, Concerto Italiano, The Consort of Musicke, Delitiæ Musicæ, etc…). For the selva morale is much more difficult to find the proper tone for all of them or just a selection. The pieces are much more heterogeneous than the different books of madrigals.

Singers on this concert at the Barbican were all terrific: Emmanuelle De Negri, Carlo Vistoli, Cyril Auvity… all of them are usually soloists singing Messiah or any other big works. Here however they sang like a perfect chamber group magically glued. It was a true joy seeing Christie conducting the ensemble with his facial gestures and mouth. The music making reached such a level that for the first time you could head a pin drop at Barbican. How both tenors filled the house with the opening of the Salve regina a 3 voci almost made me cry.

What a joy!