Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers by Ensemble Pygmalion and Raphaël Pichon
Ey, that concert was fucking amazing. Expectations for Pygmalion’s debut in the Proms were quite high after their stunning recordings (Bach Lutheran masses and the Mozart Arias). But dude, they were short compared with the results.
It’s really incredible that, nowadays, in 2017, there are still people finding new ways into music that has been there more than 500 years and has been re-re-discovered many times. Pichon approach to these Vespers (because his operatic Monteverdi could be different) is not in the path of the HIP pioneers in the sense of an objective performance. In not either the punk approach we have seen from many new ancient music ensembles during the last years, like the extremely imaginative L’arpeggiata or the brutal dynamics by La Risonanza or La Venexiana.
Pichon’s approach is spiritual and poetic, letting all the beauty in the music to be fully exposed and tasted. Without aggressive dynamics but rather organic ones. Everything was planned to let the music grow and the climaxes and intimacy parts were chained together perfectly.
One of the most impressive things was how the singers were disposed across the whole Royal Albert Hall. And when I say the whole I mean it. The public was shocked by singers coming from the top back gallery of the RAH, sometimes answering singers opposite to them, making this Monterverdi dialog style really real for all the audience. Cantus firmus came usually far from the orchestra and the chorus moved across the stage continuously to deliver different sensations during different sections of the work. The result of all of this was a revelation.
Technically the Ensemble Pygmalion is perfect, accurate and know how to deliver all the beauty in the music. Pichon is this kind of director that has a total control of what’s going on as a way to achieve is global idea of the work. Every single detail matters and has a meaning towards delivery the message of the music. Just seeing his stylized and gracefully body movements was an spectacle.
Talking individually about singers would be fair but not really the point as all of them were quite good and always the whole was more important than the parts. Congratulations to all of them and let’s hope to see these guys coming back to London in the following years.
Clearly, the best Prom so far