Choir & Organ Magazine, March/April 2018 ★★★★★
Not for John Butt the nit-picking over liturgical detail that has bedevilled the study of Monteverdi’s 1610 anthology: swerving that in favour of a concert presentation, concentrating on issues at the heart of the music, he re-examines vexed questions of pitch, tempi, scoring etc with utterly credible, even revelatory results. Vital passion (especially in the concerti), fresh, compelling fervour, luminous clarity and exquisite phrasing flow from ten vocal virtuosi and brilliant instrumentalists. Even if one prefers interpretations with a ripieno choir, it must be conceded that small forces of this quality can pack a knock-out punch – che forza!
Stereophile Magazine, Recording of the Month – May 2018 ★★★★★
This performance, joyously free of eccentricities, interested only in the honest, beautiful expression of music and texts, is heavenly.
BBC Radio 3 Record Review
The standard of solo singing is outstanding, beautifully ornamented.
Stripped back performances under John Butt that are fresh and luminous, lithe and alive.
Kate Molleson, Top 20 Classical Albums of 2017
The recording sounds fresh and clear, emphasising transparency without a big reverberant acoustic.
Informed by a judicious weighing-up of current scholarship, Butt’s performance is often one voice to a part, giving the music an intimate feel … a virtuoso display of individual talents.
Mail on Sunday *****
Any recording by Butt is an event. And this one, recorded with a small, hand-picked choir of ten voices, is special even by his elevated standards.
The Dunedin Consort’s 10 voices combine to make a magnificent choral sound.
With so many Vespers recordings out there, this one joins the ranks of those with both a character of its own and something to say.
BBC Music Magazine
This compelling and insightful album is an outstanding contribution to Monteverdi’s 450th anniversary … Particularly effective is the coloristic sonority of the organ which, by employing the Hauptwerk system, reproduces the sound of an early Venetian instrument.
Early Music Review *****
Given the outstandingly tuned singing and ensemble, the result is to expose Monteverdi’s often dazzling counterpoint in rare detail and clarity … a finely conceived and splendidly executed achievement.
This is a first-rate recording … the sounds of the Dunedin’s strings and His Majestys Sagbuts and Cornetts are exceptionally well-blended and beautifully captured in this intelligent and well-produced recording.
In 1610, some 28 years after he had last composed anything for the church, Monteverdi quietly published what is now celebrated as one of the greatest pillars of the sacred Baroque repertoire. The Vespers of the Blessed Virgin is conceived on such a monumental scale, with such heartrending dramatic and theatrical effects, that it has been described as the greatest opera he never wrote. For the group’s first appearance at the Rheingau Musik Festival, Dunedin Consort presents this astonishing 90-minute masterpiece in an intimate performance comprising just twelve solo singers and fourteen instrumentalists – bringing you closer to the music than ever before.