Thomas Wikman

Thomas Wikman Reviews

'Vespers of the Blessed Virgin'

Chicago Tribune  Wednesday, March 26, 1998
by Andrew Patner

Music of the Baroque 8 tonight and 3 p.m. Saturday, Divine Word Chapel, 2001 N. Waukegan, Techny, 3 p.m. Sunday, St. Mary of Perpetual Help, 1039 W. 32nd, Tickets, $18-$45. (312) 551-1414

Highly recommended

Least heard among the sacred choral masterpieces, Monteverdi's "Vespers of the Blessed Virgin" (1610) more than holds its own with the more familiar works of Bach, Brahms and Verdi.

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Music of the Baroque is one of the few American ensembles with the talent and expertise to pull off this complex 100-minute score; after giving the Vespers its centuries-belated Chicago premiere in 1976, MOB has offered it several times since, though not for 15 years.

Its current performances are therefore cause for celebration.  Monday night's concert in the Bavarian baroque splendor of St. Michael's Church in Old Town was confirmation of the skill that this orchestra and chorus have displayed throughout their 27 seasons.

Monteverdi was a pioneering composer in the secular music of his day, creating pathbreaking opera, ballet and madrigal works.  In its daring combination of plainchant and part-singing, along with instrumental accompaniment, his Vespers strikes the contemporary ear with its freshness and poignancy.

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