Ensembles, Singers
Acclaim

"Tenet Vocal Artists...I love the sound this group make. There’s no grandstanding. And it’s refreshing to hear the better-known carols unadorned. The highlights are too many to mention, but their version of Vaughan Williams’ 'Wither’s Rocking Hymn' is sublime...An exquisite anthology."

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Graham Rickson, the arts desk.com

"The Green Mountain Project, created by New York-based TENET Vocal Artists, has made a specialty of the Vespers and other Monteverdi works. Their moving performances have earned them critical acclaim for more than a decade. They last released a live recording of the Vespers in 2013. This album captures their final performance from New York’s Church of St. Jean Baptiste in January 2020...GMP emphasizes the music’s church origins. Yet, instead of an opulent cathedral, their interpretation has the refreshing immediacy of a community parish...From the opening ritornello of 'Deus, in adiutorium meum intende,' this is an earnest, direct, at times austere, yet always engaging performance...the texts are always clear...the altar never turns into an opera stage. There are no exaggerated effects or interpretive novelties...It’s just Monteverdi’s score and these sensitive performers...The Vespers have rightly earned many versions in the catalog...This recording offers the well-known piece in a pure, at times stark light. The Green Mountain Project has the experience and affection for this music to let it unfold naturally."

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Andrew J. Sammut, Early Music America
10 Classical Concerts to Stream in December

Tenet
Dec. 12 at 5 p.m.; caramoor.org; available until Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.

"Vocal music has been the genre perhaps most sadly affected by the pandemic — group singing, especially, since it poses a perfect storm of risks. So it is good for the soul to see even glimmers of a revival, as in this superb early-music group’s holiday program at Caramoor, featuring five singers — including Jolle Greenleaf, Tenet’s artistic director — and lute. The music is mostly in the Anglican tradition, from folk origins to contemporary sounds, with some quirky touches." 

ZACHARY WOOLFE, New York Times

"When Jolle Greenleaf, a soprano and the artistic director of Tenet, organized a performance of Monteverdi’s 'Vespro della Beata Vergine' ('Vespers of the Blessed Virgin') on Jan. 3, 2010, in New York, she meant for it to be a one-off event. After all, that year marked the 400th anniversary of the work, informally referred to as the 1610 Vespers.

 

"But Ms. Greenleaf’s production, with the musicians volunteering their work, attracted a crowd of 800 and the attention of critics. (James R. Oestreich, writing in The New York Times, called it 'quite simply terrific.')

 

"So the endeavor grew into an annual tradition, called the Green Mountain Project, in a riff on Monteverdi’s name. The performances were characterized by lithe phrasing and warm, clear sound. Textures were carefully balanced, with robust basses topped by airy trebles, including Ms. Greenleaf’s voice, piercing and true.

 

"Along the way, Ms. Greenleaf established Tenet as an independent force on the city’s early-music scene, among the most important outside of major institutions like Trinity Wall Street and the Juilliard School. And the group will have ample activities after this season’s performances of the 1610 Vespers, next Thursday and Friday at St. Jean Baptiste Church on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. These will be the final salvo of the Green Mountain Project, and Tenet’s first rendition of the Vespers without a conductor. A tour to Venice will follow, where the musicians will sing at Monteverdi’s grave and perform in churches across the city.

 

"Ms. Greenleaf spoke recently about Monteverdi, the special appeal of the 1610 Vespers and the emancipation of choral singers. These are edited excerpts from the conversation...

 

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Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, New York Times

"The performance is absolutely gorgeous. The singers’ voices are full of expression, and ornamentation is spot on. The instrumentalists play with complete understanding of the performance practice. Texts and notes are in
English."

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Loewen, American Record Guide

NYT Critic's Pick:

 

"...the 'St. Matthew Passion,' which tells of Christ’s last days on earth, is a church piece, a sacred oratorio. But how would Bach have presented it at the church where he worked in Leipzig? An affecting answer was suggested on Thursday at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Chelsea when Tenet Vocal Artists and the early-music ensemble the Sebastians, who have a string of remarkable collaborations to their credit, performed this masterpiece. It’s likely, many scholars believe, that under Bach the choruses would have been performed with one singer per part. These singers would have also shared the solo arias and even taken the crucial roles of the Evangelist and Jesus.

 

"In its intimacy and directness, this beautifully small-scale performance by Tenet and the Sebastians was just as shattering as the Berlin Philharmonic’s near-operatic approach. In the somber, steady opening piece, the choristers of one group beseech the daughters of Zion to join the lament. 'Behold!' they sing. 'Whom?', the others ask. The 'Bridegroom!' the first group explains. Here, the music was performed by just eight singers, four in each chorus, standing in front of the pews, one group to the left, the other to the right.

 

"In other performances of the passion, you can be swept along by the choral majesty of Bach’s music. In this one, you heard the individual lines — and the individual qualities of the voices — with striking clarity. So, the desperate pleas and the confused responses came through like personal utterances...

 

"...The radiant-voiced Jolle Greenleaf, the artistic director of Tenet, shared soprano arias with the elegant Laura Heimes. The countertenor Doug Dodson and the mezzo-soprano Virginia Warnken Kelsey shared the alto arias. Jason McStoots and Gene Stenger were the impressive tenors.

 

"Tyler Duncan’s naturally burly baritone made him an almost fearsome Jesus. So it was wrenching when this Jesus showed poignant vulnerability in accepting his fate. As the Evangelist, the tenor Aaron Sheehan balanced grace and urgency in relating this oft-told story..."

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Anthony Tommasini, New York Times
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