Tonight was my last evening in Chicago until next fall and we started off with dinner at the Moon Palace, our favorite Chinese restaurant, and then headed through heavy traffic to the Harris Center for a concert by Music of the Baroque.
After parking in the Millennium Garage and going up to the hall, we discovered the concert was actually at St. Michael's church in Old Town! (Read everything on your tickets before you go to the concert!)
St. Michael's Church, Old Town
Somehow David got us up there, found a semi-legal place to park on the street and actually got to the church before the concert started. It had been delayed because of traffic problems, so it all worked out fine. There was a teachers strike going on in mid town which was making traffic a nightmare.
Tonight's concert was Music of the Baroque's performance of the Vespers of the Blessed Virgin by Claudio Monteverdi (1610). Monteverdi was the link between music of the Renaissance and that of the Baroque, his composition having elements of both periods.
Jane Glover conducted the chorus and orchestra with her usual musical verve, The soloists were Yulia Van Doren, soprano, Agnes Zsigovics, soprano, Colin Ainsworthy, tenor, Thomas Cooley, tenor, Patrick Muehleise, tenor, Patrick Keys, bass, and Todd von Felker, bass.
The work was performed without pause, ninety minutes. All performed well, but in this very resonant space the fioratura, especially in the voices, was mushy. The instruments fared better, their articulation coming through neat and clear. Both the soloists and the chorus had very fast, intricate melismas to sing which sometimes resulted in a mushy passage which then resolved into a chord. Monteverdi wrote the work when he was in Mantua and it was first performed in Venice when he became music director at San Marco in 1613. Those acoustics are pretty ripe, too, so maybe that's what it sounded like originally. It was sometimes difficult to sort out the several voices moving quickly at the same time.
I am not that familiar with the work so I can't really criticize the performance except to say that it was good to hear this seldom performed work.