For the last several years, Jolle Greenleaf’s Green Mountain Project has presented concerts during the first week of January. In 2010, 2011 and this January, they presented Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610. In 2012, they varied the bill of fare by assembling a vespers service using Monteverdi psalm settings from other publications (the 1640 Selva morale and the posthumous 1650 Messa e salmi), surrounded by hymns by Monteverdi, Cozzolani, and Giovanni Gabrieli. At this year’s performance of the 1610 Vespers, they announced that a recording was available of last year’s concert series. My copy has just arrived.
The 2012 concerts were a stunning achievement, and the recording does a good job of bringing the experience back to life. They assembled some of the best early music instrumentalists and singers in New York and Boston to put the event together. As before and since, Scott Metcalfe, music director of the excellent Blue Heron early music group based in Boston, led the ensemble from the principal violin desk, and artistic director Greenleaf sang soprano solos and parts in the vocal ensembles. The program brought to light lesser known sacred music, well integrated into a service sequence. The marvelous acoustics of the two churches (in New York and Boston) where performances took place are well-captured on the recording, which is closely enough microphoned so as to preserve sonic definition but distant enough to give some sense of the church acoustic for which this music was intended. (I persist in believing that the 1610 Vespers are better served in a setting with less reverb, as intimated by the title page of the original publication suggesting that the music was suited for chapels. The somewhat swifter counterpoint of the 1610 settings gets smudged in a very reverberant church acoustic.)
Copies of the CD (as well as a 2-CD set from their first performance of the Vespers of 1610) are available from TENET, Jolle Greenleaf’s early music group in New York that plays a big role in the annual concerts. www.tenetnyc.com. At this year’s concert, Ms. Greenleaf announced that 2014’s Green Mountain Project will take place in the spring instead of the first week of January, but did not indicate what the music will be. In light of the project’s name, we expect that somehow Monteverdi will be involved. I am hoping that a recording will be released from the January 2013 performances of the 1610 Vespers, which marked a real advance over the 2011 performance that I heard in the same church. Microphones were in evidence….