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In recent years John Eliot Gardiner's name has been linked more than any other to a huge upsurge of interest in Monteverdi's extraordinary Vespers of Id 10. lieu-itched al his firsl hearing of the work us a child, he went on to conduct it as a Cambridge undergraduate. For that first performance of the then almost unheard-of Vespers, Gardiner formed The Monteverdi Choir, which today enjoys a considerable international reputation in the performance of a wide range of music. In all of their performances over the last twenty-five years the choir has been accompanied by The English Baroque Soloists, also founded by Gardiner (in 1978). It is these forces, together with His Majesties Sagbutts and Cornetts and the London Oratory Junior Choir, which perform the Vespers in St. Mark's.While the Vespers were published three years before Monteverdi took up his post as maestro di cappella of St. Mark's, Gardiner believes the work may well have been written to attract the attention of the Venetian authorities. For, although a highly successful court composer in Mantua, Monteverdi was deeply unhappy there and would have seen Venice as likely to In-more appreciative of his talents. (Indeed, he stayed in Venice for the remaining thirty years of his life and enjoyed there the eminence and fortune which he considered his due.) In his introduction to the performance, Gardiner produces evidence from the Venetian State Archives to suggest that it may have been the Vespers which were performed at Monteverdi's audition for the St. Mark's job.In fact the origins of the Vespers are shrouded in mystery - and it is not even known where or whether they were performed in Monteverdi's lifetime Nevertheless, it is. as John Eliot Gardiner contends, a work that fits the architecture and resonance of St. Mark's perfectly. As the composer of L'Orfeo, Monteverdi was a man of the theatre par excellence. Musically, the Vespers are L'Orfeo's twin and form a highly theatrical work' which seems to find its ...