Vespers - Ave Maris
arranged for Clarinet Choir by Tony Turrill
2 Bb Cl./Eb: 4 Bb Cl.: B.Hn or Alto: 2 Bass Cl., one to bottom C
Click here for some excerpts
click here for a full performance
By 1610, Claudio Monteverdi (1567 1643), then the Duke of Mantua's Maestro di Cappella, had established his reputation as a composer of secular music, madrigals and opera. His setting of the Mass and Vespers led to his appointment as Maestro di Cappella at St. Mark's in Venice, a post he held until his death. The Vespers remains his undoubted masterpiece, this Hymnus justifiably being the most well known section. I am grateful to Alan Hacker for suggesting that the hymnus would sit well on a clarinet choir. In fact, he originally contemplated multitrack recording it himself. A quick exploration using Sibelius computer software proved him to be correct and this arrangement is the result. I would also like to thank Alan for providing a reliable score and helping to edit the hymnus. This setting follows the original very closely. After the opening chorus, a sung verse is followed by an orchestral ritornello. Verse and ritornello are then repeated several times before the chorus returns.
After the first verse, Monteverdi scores each verse for a different soloist providing only solo and bass lines. In this arrangement, variety in the verses is provided by both changes in orchestration and harmony. Traditionally each ritornello is varied by changes in instrumentation and decoration and the same practice is followed here. For example the first verse is scored for a reduced quartet, later sections feature 2 Eb clarinets, mimicking the high trumpets of the period and, in the last before the final recapitulation of the chorus, all play the theme very, very quietly in unison, whilst the low bass plays an “improvisation” which has been compared to the efforts of a rotund monk - I think the reference was to the music but it might have been to the performer at the time .
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