Carissimi, Scarlatti, Schütz: Sacrifices

This summer, the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists and John Eliot Gardiner performed a programme of Baroque choral masterpieces at festivals across Europe, travelling to the Salzburger Festspiele and opening the Festival Internacional de Santander and the Quincena Musical de San Sebastian.


Carissimi Jephte
D. Scarlatti Stabat Mater
Schütz Musikalische Exequien SWV 279–281

These three Baroque choral masterpieces showcased the virtuosity of the Monteverdi Choir, and highlighted the changing musical styles in Italy and Germany in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Carissimi’s Jephte, a miniature sacred musical drama written in the middle of the 17th century, uses an almost operatic style of solo writing alongside meltingly beautiful choruses to tell the Old Testament story of Jephtha, the Israelite leader forced to sacrifice his own daughter. Domenico Scarlatti’s 10-voice Stabat mater, composed in the early years of the 18th century, combines the old-fashioned polyphonic choral style with a passionate rhetoric, in a graphic depiction of Christ’s crucifixion with all the intensity of a Bernini sculpture or a Caravaggio tableau. The programme concluded with Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien, an exquisitely poetic meditation written for Prince Heinrich of Reuss.

A selection of review quotes from the tour:

“Gardiner and the excellent musicians made it easy for you to sink into the beguiling music – or better: in the constantly renegotiated balance between beauty and truth, between evenness of vocal lines and expressive emphasis.” Feuilleton – Salzburg Festival review - By Walter Weidringer

“Full of concentrated lightness and artful precision, John Eliot Gardiner designs together with the ensembles he founded, the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists two hours of the highest spirituality and great music.” - Salzburg Festival - Marcel Bub

“Carissimi’s Historia di Jephte - The excellent choir and the outstanding soloists succeed in this complex interplay with impressive precision and committed ease.” - Marcel Bub

“Gardiner is a world-renowned figure, thanks to his talent for recovering historical music in interpretations full of meaning for our contemporary world. His concerts immerse the audience in the spiritual atmosphere of the Baroque and its longing for peace and elevation” – Santander Festival

“The vocal level of the Choir is so high that any of its members could cover the solo roles. Their technique makes them achieve a splendid sound level in tuning, exquisite vocalization, half voices, and the musical feeling that they put in each scene makes listening to it a real pleasure.” Periodico Filtración - Ángel Camarero – Santander Festival

“The final chorus ensemble (“Plorate filli Israel, plorate omnes uirgines…”) results in Gardiner’s gestures and Monteverdi’s voices of such intensity that it brings tears to the eyes” – “The concert provided a much-needed period of isolation and spirituality in these troubled times” El diario Montanes - Ana De La Robla – Santander Festival

“Scarlatti’s ‘Stabat Mater’ once again gave away the indescribable sound beauty of the choir, with very clear diction, perfect emission, warm, ductile, and extremely rich in nuances.” El Diario Vasco – Cultura – Quincena Musical - Maria José Cano

A selection of responses to the performances on our social media channels:

“The 83rd edition of the Music Fortnight is underway. Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, under the wonderful direction of John Eliot Gardiner. It was a high-quality performance, seasoned by excellent musicians and voices, with music by Schütz, Carissimi and Scarlatti.”

‘Outstandingly amazing!!” E. Gustafson

“Congratulations!!! Your concert in Santander…FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!” M. Galán Cuesta

Tour Dates

Wednesday 20 July
8.30pm, Salzburg - Salzburger Festspiele

Monday 1 August
8.30pm, Santander - Festival Internacional de Santander

Tuesday 2 August
8.00pm, San Sebastián - Quincena Musical de San Sebastián