The Amen of the Magnificatdied away, the rapt audience remained completely still and conductor Erin Helyard paused a moment before bowing. Not to us, but to the musicians and by association to Monteverdi. It was a profoundly moving gesture towards a marvellous group of singers and players who had given a performance that will live long in the memory – led, of course, by the protean Helyard.

Pinchgut Opera’s Vespers. Photograph © Lando Rossi

Helyard presents the Vesperswith one voice to a part, entrusting the work to just eight singers and an instrumental ensemble of 14, including himself on chamber organ. In line with current thinking on historical performance, it results in a transporting level of communion. Anyone used to the majesty of a large-forces Vesperswill find this approach intriguing and intensely satisfying. With the singers – two sopranos, two altos, two tenors and two basses – standing in a line behind the players, the separate voices can be heard weaving between and around each other’s and one can see the performers’ exchanged glances as they negotiate the score’s...