Collection: Lo Sposalizio

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Andrea Gabrieli,Giovanni Gabrieli,Guami,Gussago,Kapsberger,Massaino,Monteverdi,Viadana
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Music by Giovanni Gabrieli, Andrea Gabrieli, Gussago, Guami, Viadana, Massaino, Kapsberger & Monteverdi
PERFORMER: King’s Consort & Choir/Robert King


The 11th-century Venetian sailors who offered annual prayers to their patron Saint Nicolò could hardly have imagined that by 1600 their simple ceremony would have grown into one of the city’s most lavish spectacles.

Lo sposalizio, the Wedding of Venice to the Sea, included a colourful maritime procession across the lagoon, the Doge tossing a golden wedding ring into the Adriatic and a celebratory Mass at the Church of San Nicolò al Lido. Music played a central role in the festivities and Robert King has unearthed a fascinating selection of pieces that might have featured at Lo sposalizio circa 1600 – disc one recreates the journey across the lagoon, disc two presents an abbreviated Mass.

King uses tolling bells and trumpet fanfares to evoke the event’s ritual splendour, then turns to composers such as Kapsberger, Monteverdi and, especially, Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli for his main musical fare of canzonas, motets and madrigals. The younger Gabrieli provides several of the discs’ highlights, notably a solemn Kyrie a 12, buoyed by growling sackbuts, and his renowned Sonata XX a 22, a massive instrumental extravaganza here given a splendidly forceful and exuberant rendition.


Performances throughout are excellent; King’s reconstruction, brought so vividly to life, proves a splendid entertainment. Graham Lock