Wind Music

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


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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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make a note of the  ref. no. NM2032; used with the composer and title it will help identify the work


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