Music review: I Fagiolini

Edinburgh International Festival: Billed as Monteverdi's other Vespers, Saturday's concert by I Fagiolini made for a compelling morning of psalm settings from Selva morale e spirituale forming the basis of a Vespers service as it might have been heard in early 17th century Venice.

Queen’s Hall


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Generally overshadowed by the Vespers of 1610, these settings, published in 1641, have a remarkable brilliance of their own for which the group’s director, Robert Hollingworth, made a totally convincing case.

With eight singers and varying combinations of strings, wind, brass and organ as instrumental accompaniment sourced from the combined forces of I Fagiolini and the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble, the Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist was re-constructed with the psalm settings punctuated by antiphons, sung in super-smooth flowing plain chant. While Hollingworth’s conducting style may have appeared unwieldy at times, the way he coaxed and shaped the sounds of the music with his hands resulted in some truly memorable moments.

Not least were the pinging Dixit Dominus and Beatus Vir in the first half and Laudate Dominum in the second, with pairs of singers batting the text back and forth in a satisfying boldness which permeated the whole performance.