Gabrieli: A New Venetian Coronation, 1595

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COMPOSERS: Gabrieli
LABELS: Signum
ALBUM TITLE: Gabrieli: A New Venetian Coronation, 1595
WORKS: A New Venetian Coronation, 1595
PERFORMER: Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD287

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It is now 30 years since Paul McCreesh established the acclaimed Gabrieli Consort, and it is 23 years since he recorded his award-winning first attempt to reconstruct the Coronation Mass of Doge Marino Grimani originally held in Saint Mark’s, Venice in 1595. Some of the musicians have survived from the first recording (such as the principal cornettist Jeremy West), and the original producer, Nicholas Parker, is also in control here. There are, though, changes to the music – some organ and trumpet pieces have been replaced, and two of the motets (O sacrum convivium and Deus qui beatum Marcum) are now sung by solo voices rather than a choir.

The big problem is that we do not know what music was actually performed at the ceremony. Given that, it does seem rather odd to exclude the music of Baldassare Donato, who we do at least know was maestro di cappella at St Mark’s at the time. Even so, this is a marvelously handled recording conjuring up a ‘live’ event that is greatly aided by the opening bell-ringing and the ethereal spacious surround of the chanting. Musically the stars of the show are the works composed by the Gabrielis, uncle and son: Andrea’s Kyrie setting has an impressively sombre interior glow; his magical chord changes in O sacrum convivium are perfectly displayed here; and Giovanni’s Omnes gentes ends the show in magisterial form (if with slightly squeezy-boxy phrasing). For further delights do not miss the very nifty cornetto playing on track 24 and the organ duet on track 26.

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Anthony Pryer