Monteverdi Choir – Vigilate!

      3 Comments on Monteverdi Choir – Vigilate!

I am a deeply religious person. I also love music. I find things in both that are moving, often in ways that I cannot explain and I love that about both. However, it is often difficult to find intersections of the two. Most modern “church” music is dull and plodding and can feel more like penance than the full spectrum of worship.

Vigilate!, subtitled English Polyphony in Dangerous Times, is an exception. This collection of compositions from Elizabethan English composers (William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, Thomas Morley, Peter Philips, Robert White and Thomas Tomkins) is profoundly emotional, perhaps because the composers were writing in a time and place of religious persecution and upheaval, but also because the album is that rare modern recording of centuries old music that does justice to both the past and present, or more importantly, finds the common themes across time. Between them, the composers worked during the Tudor period up through the English Civil War, often operating in the gray areas between Catholicism and evolving Anglicanism. The intensity of the religious fervor of these men is brought to life in this modern rendering as a reminder that faith is not always easy, but it is beautiful in a way that defies understanding from those who would have it be easy. The same can be said of music. Polyphony often has beauty that defies comprehension. It is a far cry from “three chords and the truth,” but Truth abounds in these pieces nonetheless.

The Monteverdi Choir here act as evangelists of both timeless faith and Renaissance music in a way that can appeal to listeners who are not necessarily comfortable with either.

Released: August 2014

About bobvinyl

bobvinyl, writer and co-editor of No Song is an Island, founded its predecessor, Rock and Roll and Meandering Nonsense (whose archives are found here), in 2005 and served as editor and principal contributor until it went on hiatus in 2010. He has also been published in AMP and Loud Fast Rules! (in print) as well as Glide and FensePost on the web. He has been an avid record collector since he was seven years old and enjoys sharing his love of music from the common to the esoteric.

3 thoughts on “Monteverdi Choir – Vigilate!

  1. Chuck

    At first I thought the title was “Vigilante!” which, like “We Intend To Cause Havoc, immediately caught my attention. Alas, one “n” changes the whole thing.

    In music school, I had a meditation teacher who once played Thomas Tallis in class. I ran out and bought a CD, not having any idea what I’d heard but feeling completely moved by it. I don’t understand the history of this music or how it fits within the struggle for religious freedom, but it’s beautiful.

    I’m curious to see if I come back to this. Their voices are beautiful and the collection of pieces is more interesting than simply hearing an entire record of Tallis.

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  2. bobvinyl Post author

    I think you touched on something important about this collection that my review missed or at least did not say specifically: One strength of the album is that it crosses composers and focuses on a theme, probably far better than a collection celebrating a single composer could,

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  3. Chuck

    I’ve listened to this a couple of times now. Interesting thing is it fades very nicely into the background but it’s also remarkably complex music–both compositionally and historically–that warrants detailed focus. In ways it reminds me of what I wrote about Brian Eno’s Thursday Morning album.

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